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Pope, Robin
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
Bonn econ discussion papers 2009,12
In rich countries, the population percentage under drug therapy for depressions is rising rapidly decade by decade for children, adolescent and young adults with no evidence of any long term success for this chronic ailment. There is also in rich countries relative to most poor ones, for each age cohort, a dramatically higher incidence of dementias. This paper takes a fresh look at these evidences of happiness problems that are so much more prevalent in rich than poor countries. Risks are chances/challenges. Frequent repetition of particular risks of dire happenings can damage brains. Recognition of this has led to coddling of children (into adulthood), coddling in social security measures and coddling in individualistic therapies combined with drugs. The paper presents a new theory that not all risks are bad, that the downside of such coddling is increased prevalence of depressions and dementias. Brains need exercise from what this paper terms whiffs of danger. Whiffs of danger are sets of risks (ie chances/challenges) with three characteristics, namely that the risks are 1) tiny, 2) varied, and 3) high frequency and are damaged by shortfalls in such exercise. To be adequately varied, the risks must comprehend the range for the human brain is developed, and that include physical, mental, psychological, societal and ethical. It terms shortfalls in such brain exercise risk starvation”. Progressively, sociological changes over the last 100 years, have, for significant socio-economic and age cohorts, reduced automatic exposure to a range of risks, most particularly those involved in social interaction and lifelong ethical challenges for societal contributions. The paper furnishes sociological evidence that the new whiffs of danger / risk starvation theory explains seven epidemiological puzzles left unexplained by our current theories and associated treatments for the demented and depressed. We should switch prevention/treatment from drugs and coddling to reducing risk starvation. Children of today need to have restored to them the little physical and societal chances and challenges that they received in the preTV, pre-computer games, and pre the current era of helicopter parents coddling their children even after these children have graduated from college / university and enter the workforce. It is unkind and dangerous for people's brains to treat with drugs, coddling parents and coddling college / university student counsellors, coddling unemployment benefits and coddling old age pensions when these coddles are not complemented with tiny varied chances and challenges in the form of societal and personal obligations to help the community. A task for society is to facilitate opportunities for those groups facing risk starvation, whether through societal pressures and discrimination (eg against the aged), from boring jobs, through lack of education being unable to invent ways themselves to contribute to society when receiving old age or unemployment or disability pensions), to get sufficient whiffs of danger, ie sufficient varied tiny frequent chances and challenges. Above all society needs to construct ones involving reasonably full-scale societal interaction to counterbalance the minimal societal role afforded to those constantly protected, or who are currently enabled to limit their social interaction to the indirect restricted forms of watching TV, surfing the net and playing computer games. Assistance in learning the German language for non-native Gerrman language origin children for instance could be facilitated and aid in future worker productivity and integration and would be within the ability of many of the risk-starved. A further task for society is to reduce the bias toward pharmaceutical solutions in research and clinical work by assessing government grants exclusive on articles published in journals receiving no pharmaceutical industry support via advertising or other means and by partitioning eligibility of research funds such that portions go to researchers who undertake substantial, and those who undertake virtually total isolation from the pharmaceutical industry. Virtually total needs to include to the extent of from the beginning of a career and with a commitment for multiple years into the future, of no social contact even in the form of camaraderie over free lunches, diners and so forth in light of human's being social animals who bond strongly.
brain morbidities
brain exercise
decision making
environmental factors
risk processing
risk starvation
whiffs of danger
frequent, tiny, varied chances and challenges
damaging social security welfare
socio-economic changes
societal interactions
societal contributions
pharmaceutical advertising
pharmaceutical sponsorship
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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