What connects the diverse issues of the increased numbers of single people, the rise in atheism and individuals using online sources to self-diagnose health concerns? It has been suggested by social researchers that the concept of individualism has contributed to the idea that people in contemporary American society focus more on themselves, rather than an overall community (Berg-Cross et al, par. 6). This paper will attempt to show that the increasing trend toward, and acceptance of, a more individualistic mindset is the underlying cause connecting these three seemingly unconnected issues of singlehood, atheism and medical self-diagnosis.
“Failure to marry in either sex is the consequence of the fear of it. There is increasing recognition that bachelorhood is symptomatic of psychopathology"(Szasz, 175). This perspective of single people was common among psychoanalysts and psychologists in the 1960’s. However today, the increase in single people is less likely to be thought of as a psychological illness, but rather a lifestyle choice, as a consequence of living in a modern industrialized society. In particular, women’s increasing economic power and higher education levels mean the desire or need for security and reliability from a spouse (or partner) is more likely to be redundant, as they can provide these qualities for themselves, which allows them to be more individualistic, thus choosing to be single. Higher divorce rates also contribute to the reluctance of both men and women to participating in a legal and/or economic partnership.
The rise of internet use for medical self diagnosis is a less documented phenomenon linked to individualism. Highly industrialized, technologically advanced societies’ use of the internet for individual medical research is commonplace and according to a recent survey conducted in the United States, 52 million adults have used the internet to obtain health or medical information (Diaz et al, 180)....