Culture-Bound Delusions

Delusion, as defined in DSM-IV: “A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.” (emphasis added).

Apropos of that, Green Grrl just posted the link to this excellent article in a comment below, but I thought it was worth moving up front. It shows how the belief that one can go through winter without central heat can be considered delusional, dangerous, and unstable in one culture, while being perfectly normal in another.

While Mr. Sakamoto’s town in Japan goes about its barely-heated winter as usual, here in New England pleas for fuel-oil assistance are approaching record levels. Some quick math from that article reveals that, as of December 22, almost 9% of all households in the state had already been approved for government aid for heating oil. And winter’s only half over. Even more fascinating, the article says that “the average benefit is expected to be about $940”– which I’m pretty certain is much more than I’ll spend, total, on heat this winter. Kind of shocking.

I have no issue with spending taxpayer money to keep people from truly getting hypothermic. That is money well spent. But perhaps the first question that should be asked, on the “emergency” fuel assistance application, is, “How much of your home have you decided to keep cold for the winter? If none, why?”

[P.S. I am definitely going to build a kotatsu for next winter.]

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2 Responses to “Culture-Bound Delusions”

  1. Self-Warming « Cold House Journal Says:

    […] had this idea the other day about a sort of kotatsu that would be build around a big worm composter bin.  Not that we really produce enough veggie […]

  2. Patrick Says:

    Nearly a thousand dollars?!? Good god. I know that we spent less than that heating a 900 sq ft house with a poorly insulated attic between October and today.

    We kept the thermostat down – not as much as you, but still cooler than nearly everyone we know (50 for 18 hours of the day, 58 for 6 hours) – and we learned to live with it.

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