Ill Fares Society: The Paradoxical Return of Nervousness

People are living longer and are in better health and circumstances but they are not happier. Our culture changes constantly and this involves thinking about illness within the context of a changing society. In this paper we study historical developments spanning a century. Society has evolved from an authoritarian model to a more meritocratic one in which ethical boundaries are no longer fixed. Humanity can adapt to social change through various strategies such as assimilation or accommodation. In this context interpassivity is a tried and tested strategy. When assimilation fails, the demand for care becomes essentially a consumer demand. We conclude that the dominant social discourse plays a pertinent role in modern psychopathology (nervousness). We test our theoretical model using findings from clinical research with patients who suffer from functional somatic disorders.