The metropolis & mental health: are big cities making us sick?

Hello readers,

Though we haven’t met most of you, the editors are thrilled that we have such a widely and consistently international audience. We’d love to hear your thoughts about your various urban environments.

C. Skolnik

synthetic zerø

“New research, new methods and new data offer some promising pathways for novel theories and concepts to understand how urban existence gets under the skin. For example, we could combine approaches from biological and social sciences to understand how the precarious social lives of rural migrants in contemporary Shanghai are implicated in the development of psychiatric disorders in that rapidly expanding urban environment. It might mean combining decades of detailed epidemiological data from the streets and housing estates of south-east London with current research on the neuroscience of stress – and with anthropological work that zooms in on the micro-interactions of street-life. The task for researchers is challenging. Are the same processes at work in cities as different as Shanghai and London? Will the number of variables and factors in these neurosocial pathways be so large as to defy our attempts to frame them into a coherent theory? Nonetheless…

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One response to “The metropolis & mental health: are big cities making us sick?

  1. Yes, it seems we in the “developed” world don’t know how to live by nearly any measure (except wealth accumulation)–and while this topic has been discussed for 100 years nearly nothing has changed. In fact, things seem worse. Here’s Richard Wilkinson’s work on Inequality, note especially slides 13 and 14 in which he maps trust levels in developed countries (presumably necessary to live sanely in a place), and then slide 15 in which he maps mental illness and Inequality by country. The US in this regard, is extraordinary. (Wilkinson’s TED Talk is a fine presentation of this data)

    And then there’s this recent bit in the news, “Why modern life is making dementia in your 40’s more likely,” by researcher Colin Pritchard. Spoiler alert: it has to do with poisoning our environment with everything from car exhaust to electromagnetic radiation.

    So this new research is welcome–unless of course it fails to accomplish much…Seems to me there is a risk of getting lost in research and studies, and if we could sit quietly for a moment, most of us would see the problems fairly clearly…and maybe some answers too.

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