“It’s by Design” – American Society Runs on Stress

Americans are stressed out.  As they navigate increasingly busy roads to spend eight hours dealing with toxic bosses and outrageous customers, their hearts pound in their chests, and their minds drift to safe spaces to protect themselves from the onslaught of stressful situations. 

A 2022 study found that nearly ¾ of all Americans experienced health impacts due to stress in the last month, and a quarter of Americans were so overwhelmed with stress they could barely function. 

Though the study discusses politics, climate change, money, and other common stressors, it doesn’t delve into the possibility that this could all be by design. 

They Want Us Stressed

An expat living in America had an epiphany moment. The Original Poster (OP), who hails from Sweden, has lived in the US for the past ten years and recently realized that all these stressors aren’t unforeseen consequences; they’re policy decisions. 

The fact that nearly every single policy in the US results in more stress for the citizens could lead one to believe that the powers that be want us stressed out. 

Policies That Promote Stress

The OP gave tons of examples. A healthcare policy that ties healthcare to insurance and doesn’t even mandate paid time off for sick leave keeps people stuck in toxic jobs. That same policy puts profits in charge of healthcare, forcing Americans to pay outrageous sums for life-saving treatments and keeping them stressed that one illness could destroy their life. 

A financial system made for the rich, by the rich, where even the middle class struggles to purchase a home and pay for food on paltry wages. Debates about basic human rights that many countries resolved years ago still appear front and center of our political arena. 

And it’s not just the big-picture policies. Small things, from cities designed for cars, not people, to the influx of requests for GoFundMe donations to the unhealthy assortment of fast food available on every corner, all lead to more stress. 

Why Would They Want Us Stressed?

All this begs the question: why? Why would big corporations and politicians want US citizens stressed out all the time?

What’s the benefit?

Side Effect

Some don’t think the stress is by design. It could be a fantastic bonus, a side effect of a system designed to siphon every last dollar from the citizen’s pockets into the pockets of the rich. 

Of course, people in dire financial straights will be stressed, but stress wasn’t the goal; taking their money was. 

Stress Keeps Us Complacent

Those who insist it’s by design point to the positive effects stress has on the populace (from their point of view.)

Stressed-out folks numb their brains. They don’t have the bandwidth to think critically about what’s happening in the world. Instead, they grab fast food on their way home for a miserable 10-hour shift and sit in front of the TV for four hours before going to bed to do it all again the next day. 

They’re too tired to think. 


The stress also keeps us distracted from what’s really going on. People who are constantly worried about whether they can feed their families don’t care about the bigger happenings in the world. 

They also don’t care that their employers are abusing them. Well, maybe they care, but they can’t do anything about it because they need the money. 


Stress keeps us divided. As we fearfully submit to our base instincts of tribalism, we lash out against each other, blaming people who are slightly different for all society’s ills. It forces us into a scarcity mindset where we hoard our resources, convinced that those just trying to better their lives are stealing from us. 

US Designed for Profits, Not People

Though the US brands itself as a beacon for freedom and democracy, the harsh truth is that the country prioritizes profits over people and corporations over citizens. 

Everything in the country is designed to help the rich and powerful get more prosperous and more powerful while the peasants battle for scraps. 

Source: Reddit