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Tuesday 26 July 2022

The City Makes People Crazy

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One of the most persistent tropes in hollywood and media is the idea of the crazy country hick. From Deliverance to Cletus the Slack-Jawed yokel in the Simpsons, and many other presentations of country folk, there is a media trend to present country people as "different" or broken. Well they are different, they tend to be more sane: 

"Those living in urban settings in the United States and Europe appear to suffer more often from the disease (schizophrenia) than those living in the country or the suburbs. These curious spikes in the disorder remain even when the researchers took migration, drug use and poverty out of the equation. Men living in the most densely populated areas of Sweden, for instance, are at a 68 percent higher risk of being admitted for psychosis - often the first sign of schizophrenia - than those who live in the countryside. For women the risk is 77 per cent higher. Something about city living seems to spark the harrowing delusions, hallucination and disorganized thinking characteristic of a schizophrenic break. Strange still, some neighbourhoods in cities produce more schizophrenics, to such a degree that scientists have wondered about the environmental pathogens that might exist in one place and not another."

From Crazy Like Us, by Ethan Watters

Something about city living actually makes people go crazy more often. Is it the environment. Is it the lights? Maybe something in the water? The constant encouragement to sexual depravity found in cities? A combination of all of these things? 

Seinfeld played on this idea many years ago with Elaine, whose character in one episode bragged about how violated or "broken" she was, and that was just what you had to put up with living in the city. Welcome to the club, she said to Jerry, who had just been violated himself, or at least suspected he had. Elaine was anything but stable. In fact none of those characters were. Something about modern cities wears people down and that show highlighted it. 

There are many things that people enjoy about cities. The restaurants, the social scene, the theatres and more. But cities are unnatural environments in every way, There is also something about being in the concrete jungle that is just off, it just does not feel right. Evidence shows this is not just a feeling, but a genuine environmental effect that in some people drives them literally crazy. 

But what I find most fascinating is that many movies and TV shows are made by a Holloywood steeped in city living that looks at the country and sees crazy. But are they just largely projecting their own insanity? Evidence would seem to point in that direction. 

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