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A Culture of Fear and Anxiety Haunts Europe


14 Nov 2022


Global Europe

Brussels, Belgium:


To gain clarity about the workings of Europe’s anxious culture, MCC Brussels, the city's new think tank, is initiating an ambitious new research project focused on the question of ‘What do the people of Europe fear’? One of the goals of this project is to launch an annual Fear Barometer that will provide policymakers with information about the changing contours of the experience of anxiety and fear.


Professor Frank Furedi, Executive Director of MCC Brussels, stated, “Europe’s mental health crisis is symptomatic of a cultural malaise afflicting the continent. The dramatic increase in the use of antidepressant drugs runs in parallel with the growth of anxiety. Surveys suggest that the prevalence of anxiety in 2020 was more than double in Belgium, France, and Italy to what was observed in previous years.


Furedi, the author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear In the 21st Century, argues that “what underpins the current mental health crisis and the prevalence of anxiety is a widespread mood of disorientation regarding community values”. He elaborated that “the current zeitgeist of anxiety is an expression of a loss of meaning experienced by many citizens throughout the European Union”.


A panel will discuss the conflict of values in Europe at MCC Brussels’ inaugural conference, “Towards European Renewal”. It will be held in Brussels at the Atomium on November 15th, 2022 from 13.00 to 18.00, followed by a brief reception. Pre-registration is required. Three sessions will grapple with the economic and social challenges that society faces now to answer the question “Where is Europe going in an age of global disorder?”. Speakers include Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford; Thomas Fazi, leading Italian political economist and author; Dr. Monika Gabriela Bartoszewicz, Polish Academic and Associate Professor at the Arctic University of Norway; and the founding team for the MCC Brussels.



Note that the usage of antidepressant drugs increased by nearly two and a half times from 2000 to 2020 in 18 European countries, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data.



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