When It’s Bad to Have Good Choices

The New Yorker:

It may not surprise you to learn that healthy, well-fed people in affluent countries are often unhappy and anxious. But it did startle Zbigniew Lipowski when he came to a full realization of this fact. He had emigrated to North America from Dublin, in 1955, and, in the mid-nineteen-sixties, was put in charge of the psychiatry practices at two Montreal hospitals, Royal Victoria and Montreal Neurological. Why, he thought, as he worked there, would so many people living in such good conditions have so much anxiety?

Lipowski was born in Poland and, in 1944, took part in the Warsaw Uprising, a mass revolt against the German Army that left more than two hundred thousand civilians dead. Lipowski, masquerading as a French refugee returning to France, was one of the fortunate few who escaped. “Those two months were the most significant experience of my life,” he would later recall. “The odor of burning flesh was with us day and night. We were bombed and shelled daily, food was very scarce, and water had to be obtained at night from a well some distance away. I was so hungry as to almost hallucinate food.”

Read the whole story: The New Yorker

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