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Reading

The Narrowing Gap

I'm reading a book called The Origins of Unhappiness by David Smail. He is a psychologist and the book, published in the early 90s, is about how personal distress, often diagnosed as coming from within us (depression, anxiety, etc.), actually originates from external forces. It is not an easy read, but interesting. Smail uses terms such as "proximal" power to describe influences of one's immediate environment, and "distal" power to describe forces from a distance that are not recognizably apparent to us.

In the chapter I'm reading now, he uses 1980s Britain (although it is applicable to much of the world) as a case study to show how the pervasive business culture of that time contributed to the distress of individuals of various classes.
What I keep thinking as I read this book is: what has changed since the 1980s? One thing is that the gap between the "proximal" and the "distal" seems to have narrowed somewhat, particularly with the advent of the internet, social networking and a tsunami of information that continually inundates us.

Has this created a whole new level of personal anxiety? Might it eventually contribute to a reevaluation of how we understand the world and our own reactions to those forces we feel we have no control over?