Anxiety disorders are a mental problem as old as civilization, though there are numerous unconfirmed reports that more people are having problems with anxiety and phobias now than ever. While these reports lack concrete evidence to back their claims up, there are several mental health issues that need to be considered here. Modern society, with all the concerns over ethics, morality, propriety, and social rules can have a rather unpleasant effect on the mind.
While not all minds fall apart from the pressures and demands placed by living in a “civilized” world, there are some scenarios and elements that make people feel as if they’re dangerously close to that precarious edge. Again, there is currently no real, hard evidence to back the following claims up, but the sheer amount of anecdotal evidence is able to spark more than just a passing concern. The fact is, a lot of people feel that modern civilization has produced more fear and anxiety in its own citizens than any civilization before it, and below are a few of the most commonly cited reasons for this view.
Reason #1: Bureaucracy
As things get larger and more complex, the more difficult it becomes to connect the dots between one part and another. This is true for the ecologies of large natural environments, where even the most hardened ecologists have difficulty putting together all the links in the chain. This is also true for the modern environment, where each department is set up to be an independent authority over its specific task, yet is inevitably linked to each other department in ways that nobody but the people in charge really seems to actually understand. People can sometimes develop massive amounts of stress and anxiety when dealing with bureaucracy, whether it is in the places where they work or in the institutions around them. With this sort of framework present in pretty much every company in some form, is it any wonder that employees tend to develop anxiety disorders over time?
Reason #2: Ignorance
This one requires a bit of explanation. There is a general tendency for citizens of one country to be completely and utterly ignorant of the culture, customs, and mores of another culture. This is true even if the other culture is basically the country next door. This inevitably leads to people feeling a collective fear and anxiety when exposed to those foreign cultures, all the while being completely unaware of how much fear and anxiety their own culture causes people in other countries. This ignorance, along with the fear and anxiety that follows, can result in any number of negative backlashes. Even ignorance of the quirks and habits of one’s neighbor can result in irreversible harm being done to one’s family, friends, or even one’s community. How do you think the Salem Witch Trials started in the first place? Anxiety and phobias directed towards the vulnerable and unwanted members of the community, mixed in with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned religious fascism.
Reason #3: The Media
The media, more than any other factor in the modern world, is the source of countless social problems. From telling people that “greed is good” back in the early 80s to pushing the idea that being bigger than a size zero means you’re fat, the media has long exerted a degree of control over people that is far from healthy. Several cases of performance anxiety, status anxiety, and even social anxiety can be traced back to a fictional character or the media portrayal of a famous personality. In a few rare cases, the media can even push a person to feel separation anxiety, generally in the form of an extreme unwillingness to let go of the “legacy” of some dead celebrity, such as Elvis or Princess Diana.