Sunday, 25 September 2011

Status Syndrome; by Michael Marmot

Social standing affects your health:

Professor Michael Marmot is an eminent researcher, and is justly celebrated for his findings that social status, such as within the hierarchy of the UK civil service, have a clear and startling correlation with health and longevity. People at the top of the tree are healthier and live longer. He has diligently gathered and analysed the data, and the conclusions are clear.

This is good material for an extended essay, or a short book. What he has done is to batter this subject to death over nearly 300 pages, thereby battering me the reader and losing my interest. He drove me crazy with the endless repetition of the word ‘gradient’ – either social or health gradient. I counted the word popping up again and again in single pages and even single paragraphs. I started to dread the reappearance of the word, and wished he could find some other metaphor to vary the stodgy diet of ‘gradient’. It became a cliché, and an irritant, like the weather forecast saying ‘a touch of frost’, which similarly makes me wince.

Having, I am sure, got the gist of his message, I had to put the book down around page 100. Despite resolutions to pick it up again, and do justice to the friend who had lent me the book, a deep aversion has prevented me from doing so.

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