On Thinking Allowed today, Nils Christie, Professor of Criminology at Oslo University startled me with a simple fact. Talking about imprisonment he mentioned that, at 141 per 100,000 of population, the UK has the highest rate in Western Europe. This figure is much higher than the rate in Scandinavian countries which is around 60 per 100,000. That wasn't what startled me.
What startled me was the comparison to the US which has almost 800 people in prison per 100,000. Not only is this rate astonishing but so was the automatic connection Christie made between the high prison population and the drive for economic success in the US.
It reminded me of the idea, put forward by Richard Wilkinson in his book 'Unhealthy Societies', that mental illness is related to the gap between the rich and the poor. Those countries which have the largest gaps tend to have the highest rates of mental illness. In Wilkinson's new book (reviewed in The Guardian) this thesis is extended to include the same connection between unequal societies and higher crime rates.
Not only is the American Dream more likely to put you in jail, it is more likely to drive you crazy.
Thinking Allowed from 8th March 2006
Making Habits, Breaking Habits
In his new book, Jeremy Dean--psychologist and author of PsyBlog--looks at how habits work, why they are so hard to change, and how to break bad old cycles and develop new healthy, creative, happy habits.
→ "Making Habits, Breaking Habits", is available now on Amazon.Reviews
The Bookseller, “Editor’s Pick,” 10/12/12 “Sensible and very readable…By far the most useful of this month’s New You offerings.”
Kirkus Reviews, 1/1/13 “Making changes does take longer than we may expect—no 30-day, 30-pounds-lighter quick fix—but by following the guidelines laid out by Dean, readers have a decent chance at establishing fulfilling, new patterns.”
Publishers Weekly, 12/10/12 “An accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives.”