Saturday, September 13, 2003

My My, What a Surprise!

From the Department of the Flamingly Obvious comes this report in Aftenposten:

Jungle dwelling is more stressful life

The indigenous Mangyan people of the Mindoro Island in the Phillipines live a traditional and primitive life on the edge of the tropical jungle. Norwegian researchers have now found that the Mangyan way of life produces the same types of stress that modern technological living does - only more so.

Brit Hellesnes, chief physiotherapist at the heart and lung center at Ullevaal Hospital, and her husband, Peer Staff, head of medical expertise at Vesta Insurance, decided to take a close look at the difference between basic living and the well-documented strains of modern existence.

A year ago, the couple traveled to Mindoro and carried out extensive interviews with local interpreters. The results were unexpected, and will be published in an international scholarly journal later this year.

"We were greatly surprised when the data was analyzed and we found that, not only did the jungle dwellers have the same ailments we did, they had them to an even greater degree. Also, we found that the distribution of ailments was exactly like that in modern society," Staff and Hellesnes said.

Fatigue, depression, sleeplessness are all common complaints that are not solved by a hunter-gatherer lifestyle grounded by some basic agriculture.

Like present-day affluent Norwegians, the most common physical complaints were muscle and skeletal pains. But while 82.1 percent of Norwegians answered that they have had such problems in the course of the past 30 days, 100 percent of the Mindoro felt the same.

Stomach ailments pestered 60 percent of Norwegians during the previous month - over 80 percent of the Mindoro had the same complaint.

The lack of control over their existence gave the Mindoro far more to worry about, and even such basic elements like food or childbirth are laden with uncertainty on the fringe of the jungle. A basic difference between the two varying cultures is that the Mindoro do not view their pains as illnesses, but rather as a normal state of affairs.

Something like this is worth having close at hand whenever one has to listen to complaints about how stressful it is being an urban sophisticate; the average whining yuppie wouldn't have lasted very long in a paleolithic setting.