Stress is a problem

A collaboration of social scientists studied historical stress levels and recently published its findings.

During the 99% of our species history lived within the context of the Old Ways (human-scaled, egalitarian-communitarian tribal and village societies) stress levels averaged 32 (on a 1-to-100 scale). This was normal, in the sense that we had evolved to constitutionally be able to cope with that level of stress.

After the beginning of the “ascent into civilization” starting five thousand years ago the levels became elevated, averaging 48. Sixty-five percent of people were able to cope.

Since the civilizational inflection point represented by the industrial revolution starting three hundred years ago stress levels soared to 86. This is due to the fact that the domains of experience and the standards of attainment have hypertrophied for most people. The scopes and scales of modern life are insane, resulting in disorientation and imbalance.

It’s remarkable and impressive that fully thirty-four percent of people are still able to cope. A problem is that the other sixty-six percent feel inferior and inadequate and tend to get depressed about it.

It’s asking too much. It’s starting to shred the social fabric. The solution is to restore reasonable limits and healthy balances. Legislation to that effect introduced last winter by Rep. Jensen of Ohio is expected to pass the House before the end of this term but may face opposition in the Senate.

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Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).