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Dead Wrong® with Johan Norberg – Is There a Mental Illness Epidemic?

February 20, 2020

Globally, mental illness has
increased by more than a third since 1990. Could be rampant individualists,
a stressful work environment, or social media. I don’t know. But we do know that we
live in a sick society. No, that’s Dead Wrong. Yes, the crude number of
cases has increased by more than a third. But you know, world
population over the same time increased by almost a third. The biggest review of
studies show that the average age-standardized prevalence of
anxiety and depression increased only from 4.1% to
4.2%, 1990 to 2010. And the researchers write that
when clear diagnostic criteria are applied, there is no
evidence of an increase. A more recent review of 42
studies show that mental illness between 1990 and 2017 increased
minimally, and the researchers assume that can be explained
by demographic factors. They conclude: “We can be rather
confident that the overall global prevalence of mental
illness has not dramatically increased in recent decade if it
has at all.” So why do we think that we live in
the age of anxiety? One reason is that we have
now borrowed a terminology from clinical disorders to
talk about all sorts of psychological distress. Another reason is that
taboos have been broken. We are now much more likely to
report symptoms of psychological illness, and we are much more
likely to take them seriously. That’s a sign of a healthy
society, not a sick one. Wait! Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel here. And watch these other videos. And check back next Wednesday for a new Dead Wrong from Free To Choose Network.


  • Reply Jarful of Love February 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Who cares about the global prevalence? I want to know about the youth in the west who, according to Jonathan Haidt's data, have been self harming and committing suicide at a significantly higher rate than their parents' and grandparents' generation.

  • Reply Jeramy Davin February 19, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    I absolutely loved your documentary on Sweden! You are a very rational and thoughtful person! Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Russell Madden February 19, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Well, if we treat statism, collectivism, and PC SJW-ism as "mental illnesses," then maybe…

  • Reply thanksfernuthin February 19, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    If I had to guess… which I don't… all the countries with continued population growth didn't add to the numbers. They're normally undeveloped countries that don't have time for mental illness. But, as you said, the number of people reporting their own mental illness has probably grown quite a bit in the developed world. I've wondered if the lack of REAL problems (nothing to eat, no where to live, attack from wild animals) has caused us to over react to the problems we do have. Like an immune system attacking the body when there is no threat to fight.

  • Reply Flashback February 19, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Here you are! Finally found you buddy. 💪

  • Reply Flashback February 19, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Would love to see you in some crushing debates. Would be a win-win..

  • Reply Nicholas Strezynski February 19, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    I know he's correct, but my gut instinct disagrees based on an argument that boils down to "But…. But… C'monnnn!!!"

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