- Title: HUNGARY: Surveys shows Hungarians among the saddest people in Europe
- Date: 26th October 2008
- Summary: COMPUTER SCREEN SHOWING GRAPHS OF HIGHER RATE OF MISTRUST IN SOCIETY
- Embargoed: 10th November 2008 12:00
- Location: Hungary
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA6PME34HRK7GZTH7B211QMRN38
- Story Text: Hungarians appear towards the bottom of a happiness-sadness scale calculated for 19 European countries, but Budapest residents say they just "disguise their happiness well".
Sad and strangely gripping, 'Gloomy Sunday' is often called the Hungarian sadness anthem.
Today a pianist still plays the tune in the popular Kis Pipa restaurant, the same place where the song's composer, Rezso Seress, used to play it in the early 1930s. Gloomy Sunday became world famous as it was sung by Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and had versions in Swedish, Chinese, Japanese and even Esperanto.
When the song first appeared it soon became known as the 'suicide anthem' because its impact was so strong that many people were said to commit suicide to it and leave the lyrics with their farewell letters. Later the composer himself also took his own life by jumping out of a window.
"It has become a kind of national anthem of sadness. People here in the restaurant are not usually sad but when they hear this song they feel that kind of general sentiment of - Why don't we fare better? Why are others doing better when they're no better than we are?" pianist Ferenc Bakai said.
Hungarians have long had a reputation as being the gloomiest nation in Europe. They are renowned for their pessimism, and depression is a nationwide problem.
So the findings of a recent survey by pollster Tarki showing Hungarians among the saddest nations in Europe came as no great surprise.
With a score of 10 being the happiest, the 1,500 Hungarians who filled out the form averaged 6.4 points, well below the European average of 7.21 points. The Danes and Swiss came out as the happiest with 8.33 and 8.11 points respectively.
The unhappy Hungarian spirit was strangely reflected in a recent open-air exhibition dedicated to happiness. Artists were asked to come up with photos and posters presenting the idea of happiness. However, many works actually depicted depression and sadness.
According to the Tarki survey, the Hungarian mood has even deteriorated since the last such survey in 2005.
Hungary's leading behavioural psychology research team has found similar results in its research of 6,000 people between 2002 and 2006. It found that clinical depression rose from 13% to 18%, meaning that every fifth Hungarian is seriously depressed. It also found that social trust has greatly diminished in the past few years, one of the factors that contributed to the feeling of unhappiness.
"We have found that it is owing to the increase of feelings of hostilities, the so-called state of anomy. That is when people feel that they do not have goals, they do not have standards in their lives to abide by, they see their future as blank and hopeless. And it's also telling that the proportion of those saying that people do not care about what happens to others rose from 50% to 80%," psychologist Maria Kopp said.
Other factors that play a part in the amount of unhappiness are the rate of divorce, unemployment, civil society, satisfaction with the government, and religion. Kopp said the level of unhappiness and depression was particularly high among men.
"Interestingly, they feel more intensely that there are no common social goals and values in which they could trust. The civil organizations are not strong enough so the defence functions of society are not working properly. And they feel that their lives have no goal and meaning which plays an important part in the high death rate of men. Interestingly, this wasn't so in the case of women," she said.
Many Hungarians, however, insist that they are not really gloomy, let alone pessimistic, just simply realist. Some at the happiness exhibit said the Hungarian gloom is just a myth.
"People show their unhappiness when they express themselves publicly and they complain how badly they live, how oppressed they are and so on. But it's not true," Budapest resident Annamaria said.
Another resident, Jozsef Komocsin said that deep down Hungarians aren't really that unhappy.
"Most people believe in happiness, we just disguise it well,"
According to the ten-level scale completed by 34,000 people, only the Russians and Bulgarians are less happy than the Hungarians.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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