Mao Meets Freud: Stressed Chinese Seek Help in Western Therapy

New stresses faced by Chinese citizens are causing a rise in demand for psychotherapy-related services, according to Bloomberg:

In the past 30 years, China’s Communist system of government-assigned jobs and apartments has become a capitalist free-for-all with cutthroat competition for education and work and a widening gap between rich and poor. To cope with the stress, some people are turning to a Western tool: psychotherapy. It’s a radical shift in a nation where focus on the individual was discouraged by both socialist ideology and traditional culture.

“There are great changes happening in Chinese society, and people are more open and pay more attention to their inner mind,” says Zheng Yu, a therapist in Chengdu, about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) southwest of Beijing.

Mental-health problems affect about 15 percent of the population and account for 20 percent of China’s so-called disease burden — a measure of the financial and other effects of illness, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares with the World Health Organization’s estimate of 13 percent for the worldwide disease burden and may climb to 25 percent by 2020.

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