Of Spirits and Madness: An American Psychiatrist in Africa by Paul R Linde
It today’s North American culture complaining is normal because it is a verbal behaviour that has been reinforced. Acts of complaining are typically followed by one of these consequences that reinforce the behaviour:
Attention - “Oh, life is hard for you right now.”, “You’ll be okay.”, “Let me help you”
Escape - “Okay, you don’t have to do X, Y and Z anymore.”
Tangible - “Here, have this instead” as a substitute item is given to them.
And, I suppose that for some people the sound of their own voice could be reinforcer enough; though, it would be hard to tease out the social aspect of complaining when there is almost always an audience.
Until our social environment is prepared to put complaining on extinction by not responding to it at all, we will remain a society where complaining is a norm.