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University Twente: why don't Dutch women get depressed?

28 March 2008, 00:00

In the Vrijhof Amphitheater at the UT, Ellen de Bruin, psychologist and journalist for the science section of the NRC Handelsblad, amused her audience with her portrayal of the modern-day, Dutch biking goddess, who handles life's small obstacles with her efficient practicality through rain, hail and wind.

In the Vrijhof Amphitheater at the UT, Ellen de Bruin, psychologist and journalist for the science section of the NRC Handelsblad, amused her audience with her portrayal of the modern-day, Dutch biking goddess, who handles life's small obstacles with her efficient practicality through rain, hail and wind.

On its first reprint, de Bruin's book, `Dutch Women Don't Get Depressed,' is the Dutch retort to the worldwide bestseller, `Why Don't French Women Get Fat,' and the Asian equivalent, `Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat.'

In a search for an answer to her title, de Bruin conducted interviews with psychologist, historians, world travelers and experts. Her final conclusion was that Dutch women, though not completely immune to depression, are happier then most women in the world.

In a study to discover levels of happiness, conducted by professor Rutt Veenhoven from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Dutch women ranked number 15 on a world chart, scoring a 7.4, a result that placed the Dutch higher then most countries.

Based on her research, she discovered certain characteristics of Dutch women as being: bossy with their husbands, great cyclist, lousy at hospitality, sometimes naïve, and possessing natural beauty.

One example, says de Bruin, `If you come around a Dutch family at dinner time, you get sent away. They say, we're going to eat in 5 minutes and it's not an invitation. It's go away, come back later.'

`This is because Dutch women are very assertive and very self confident and they can say anything they like,' says de Bruin.

The Netherlands remains an open society, a land where marijuana is legally sold, euthanasia is permitted, and one of the few countries in the world to legalize and tax prostitution.

`Equality is really a determinate for happiness,' says de Bruin. She believes in the freedom of personal choices, `In the Netherlands, we are free to choose our own life. We are free to choose our religion, our own sexual orientation, and who we marry' and she concludes, `All these freedoms make us happy.'

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