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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.