The Balanced Diet Myth
Social commentators who have dubbed recent decades “The Age of Anxiety” normally recite a long list of increasing social pressures as the basic cause of America’s number one health problem: mental illness.
Emotional ailments, which now hospitalize as many victims as all other illnesses combined, have escalated shaiply in recent years. On any given day, there are some 753,000 people under psychiatric care in hospitals alone, plus an additional 173,000 being treated through some form of supervised community care. Add to this the 1,350,000 outpatients served by private and public clinics and all those in institutions, schools, and daycare facilities for the mentally ill and retarded, and the total comes to three and one half to four million Americans receiving some form of psychotherapy. According to the United States Bureau of the Census, that is over twice the number treated for mental illness in 1944.
Omitted from these figures are most of the nine million clearly recognized alcoholics, an unreported population of drug addicts, and those who suffer less specific mental ailments, from excess fatigue to psychosomatic complaints, without getting caught up in the statistics.
The increase in such problems among young people is particularly alarming. Ten percent of all school age children have emotional difficulties requiring psychiatric treatment, and more than a million children now have such serious mental disorders as schizophrenia or other psychotic illnesses.
Dr. Joseph Noshpitz, president of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, claims that if really careful screening devices were used, statistics would probably be doubled or trebled.
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