OECD report and Kerry Katona

In a new report – ‘OECD (2008), Growing Unequal? : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries’ – by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UK has been found to have income inequality and poverty which is falling faster than any other OECD country.

Why is this interesting? Some people have plotted the prevalence of emotional distress present in the populations of different nations* against the income inequalities also present and found there to be a positive correlation between the two. The USA, which is a nation that has built its prosperity upon a high tolerance for inequality, is top of the pile, with both the greatest income inequality (ratio of top 20% vs bottom 20% of incomes) and highest presence of emotional distress; a more socially democratic nation like Germany has much lower levels of both inequality and emotional distress. So, if the UK is becoming less unequal, will we see an improvement in our levels of emotional distress the next time they are measured?

Alas it’s unlikely to be that simple. The causes for emotional distress are multi-factorial; two other possibilities for a nations’ distress are a lack of social mobility and highly invasive, dissatisfaction creating, advertising cultures. Indeed this latter influence has a name: ‘The Hello! magazine effect’, whereby despite being increasingly better off, people compare themselves with celebrities and celebrities wealthy chums and feel relatively impoverished as a result.

***

Talking of celebrities and their chums, reality Queen Kerry Katona was on This Morning this morning and caused a stir ‘looking distracted and at times confused, slurring her words and almost unable to string a cogent sentence together ‘. You can watch her here and here. She said that she was taking Chlorpromazine and this was the reason for her slurred speech. I can’t be bothered to write a full post about this, but she actually didn’t seem too bad to me. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time hanging out with crack addicts in Hackney.

What did anyone else think?

* The measurement of this sort of thing is open to some debate of course.

Links for OCED

Guardian article Wealth gap narrows faster in UK than other developing countries 21 October 2008

OECD report Growing Unequal? : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries

This is Oliver James’ hobby horse

Hello Magazine effect discussed on Today 0709 and 0816

5 Responses to “OECD report and Kerry Katona”

  1. Jon says:

    I watched Kerry on TV this morning too, and she is certainly not the first person to seem a bit drunk in the morning. Maybe medication, maybe very hungover, for all we know she may have just had a late night out with friends. I know that there have been mornings when I have struggled to sound coherent!

    As for the idea of greater social and economic inequality leading to more mental health problems, then surely wealthier countries, whether they have greater inequality or not, are often more likely to spend more money on mental health care and may be quicker to diagnose conditions.

    I also think that the celebrity / Hello! effect is probably, with maybe the exception of eating disorders, of little importance when compared with social-environmental causes of mental health. I sometimes feel that I should be fitter. slimmer etc. But that just prompts me to do something about it. I should think that a majority of people are of a similar mindset. In a way it reminds me of the suggestion that violent films make people act more violently. Sure I read that that theory was binned some time ago.

  2. Paul says:

    “she actually didn’t seem too bad to me. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time hanging out with crack addicts in Hackney.”

    :-D

  3. Paul says:

    Just watched the clip – feel quite sorry for the girl.

    Who on earth thought it was appropriate to let her go on TV? They must have noticed beforehand…

    And is it common to use chlorpromazine to aid sleep?

  4. Frontier Psychiatrist says:

    Paul – Chlorpromazine is occasionally given as night sedation to people when it’s felt inappropriate to give a benzodiazepine. This would be pretty unusual though and its ‘usage creep’ which I’m not keen upon. Most likely KK’s doctor gave her something to ‘calm her down’ and she perhaps it hasn’t fully been explained to her/she didn’t listen. I’m trying not to know too much about her, but she may have a mental health diagnosis like BPAD and people give antipsychotics for this quite often (only Olanzapine has a license though I think).

    Jon – ‘wealthier countries….are often more likely to spend more money on mental health care and may be quicker to diagnose conditions.’

    This is somewhat contentious. Mental health illnesses are not natural facts and are products of a complex interaction between healthcare/society often expressing wider moral and political values. The idea that the increase in mental health conditions is due to a iceberg of undiagnosed mental illness is put forward by some, but to my mind is more likely to be due to people framing as mental illness what was previously seen in another light.

    ‘I also think that the celebrity / Hello! effect is probably…of little importance when compared with social-environmental causes of mental health. I should think that a majority of people are of a similar mindset’

    The ‘Hello! magazine effect’ is a social-environmental cause!

  5. Katrina says:

    Paul – Chlorpromazine used to be used a lot for sleep. Less so since benzos, and more recently the Z-drugs, came along.
    I’ve certainly prescribed it for this where it wouldn’t be appropriate to give people hypnotics (eg if they had to look after young babies, and so needed to be rousable at night) or benzos (eg previous addict). It is easier to get on a private prescription than benzos (controlled drug in UK) and cheaper on a private prescription than Zopiclone, etc.

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