A summarized collection and critical assessment of the ongoing research that exposes the sickening effects of capitalism on mental health was recently published as a chapter in the Oxford Textbook of Social Psychiatry by epidemiologists Jerzy Eisenberg-Guyot and Seth Prins.
Psychiatry and social sciences’ focus on individual factors has failed to account for the role of structures and systems – such as capitalism – in developing mental illness and the disparities in psychological forms of suffering.
The authors write:
“What explains these trends and inequities? While this question has been a primary concern of quantitative social science, the resulting answers have not always engaged directly with capitalism—a socio-economic system that not only structures societal distributions of health-affecting resources and power but also modulates our experiences of reality and the production of knowledge within it. Instead, mental health researchers have focused on the roles of individual-level factors like ‘risk behaviors’ or socio-economic status. Moreover, capitalism’s ubiquity makes it difficult to isolate pathways through which it affects any single outcome like mental health.”