With the current worldwide recession battering Britain along with everybody else, the British Psychological Society devoted part of its annual meeting in Brighton last week to the impact of the economic downturn on people’s mental health. Here are some snippets:
Says Professor Stephen Lea of the University of Exeter:
"Money is a strong motivating force in society. Yet unlike other strong motivators such as food or sex, it has no apparent or direct biological basis. It can be seen not only as a useful tool for society, but also as a powerful drug. Modern money is, in a sense, a mutual confidence trick. Money and financial instruments like stocks and shares, only work because everyone believes that they will work.”According to another speaker, Peter Cooper, chief executive of CRAM International and a fellow with the Market Research Society:
"Confidence in the supposed instrumental support for some kinds of money, or money-related tools, has collapsed resulting in substantial disorder in behavior. On the other hand, many people have suddenly been put in a situation where they are either in debt or are almost bound to go into debt. We need to consider whether there has been a mass psychology of both money and debt that has contributed to the credit crunch".
"For many people the recession is creating profound fears about loss of home, love, self-respect, and above all loss of meaning in their lives. Anxiety and depression are increasingly evident. Many blame the 'greed' of the past. Others see it as an opportunity for 'cleansing' and a 'new beginning'. However, many people lack the psychological resources to cope.”
"Psychological factors have played a part in the origins of the crisis, and are now critical in its resolution for individual and social well-being. Understanding psychological needs and working in partnership with organizations in fields like economics, ecology and politics can help forge the new world people are seeking."
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