Recent decades have witnessed an increased interest in the cross-cultural study of mental disorders. This interest has manifested itself across a variety of disciplines and has served as an impetus for the development of a number of subdisciplinary specialties. Regardless of the different names which have been applied, the central concern of all of these specialties has been to illuminate the role of cultural factors in the etiology, expression, course, and outcome of mental disorders. From their success in achieving these purposes, it is clear that the cross-cultural study of mental disorders has contributed greatly to our understanding of the role of cultural factors in mental disorder. The purpose of the present paper is to discuss some of these contributions and, in the process, to call attention to the fact that all aspects of mental disorders are inextricably linked to the sociocultural milieu in which they are generated.
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Although depression is considered to be one of mankind?s oldest known disorders, it continues to remain a source of great confusion and debate to lay people and professionals alike. Cross-cultural studies of depression hold much promise for increasing our knowledge of depression because they offer us an opportunity to validate our notions about the conception, distribution, manifestation, measurement, personality correlates, and sociocultural causes of depressive experience and disorder. Based on an extensive review of the cross-cultural literature on these topics, the following conclusions were reached: (1) Depressive experience and disorder vary considerably as a function of sociocultural factors. (2) The epidemiology of depression is not known because of limitations in research methods, but there is reason to believe that the frequency of depression is higher in Western societies. (3) The experience and manifestation of depression differ as a function of Westernization. Those cultures evidencing subjective epistemological orientations tend to avoid the psychologizing of experience and thus do not manifest psychological and existential symptomatology in depression. (4) Depression assessment methods are highly ethnocentric and need to emphasize greater attention to somatic and interpersonal processes in the diagnosis of depression in non-Western cultural settings. (5) Personality correlates of depression vary across cultures with respect to the presence or absence of guilt, self-concept discrepancy, and body image dissatisfaction. (6) Existing sociocultural theories of depression are lacking in explanatory and predictive power and require more comprehensive views of the mechanisms by which sociocultural factors influence the various parameters of depression.
UAA/APU Consortium Library, General Collection GN502.H36 vol.6
The present article offers an overview discussion of ethnocultural aspects of PTSD, with special attention to major conceptual
issues, clinical considerations, and therapy practices. The historical circumstances leading to the widespread acceptance of
PTSD among conventional mental health professionals, and the subsequent criticisms that emerged from scholars, humanitarian
workers, and ethnocultural minorities are presented as an important background to the current controversial status of
the concept, especially with regard to arguments regarding the ethnocultural determinants of PTSD. The concept of culture,
its definition, and its developmental socialization process, are presented as foundations for understanding the many influences
cultural variables have on the perception, experience, clinical expressions, and treatment responses to trauma. A "trauma
event-person ecology" model identifies the different factors that serve to shape the outcome of trauma within and across
cultures. A therapy outcome equation is presented that summarizes the complex calculus of variables and considerations
impacting different outcomes. The many healing principles used by different Western and traditional approaches are also identified,
calling attention to the importance of fitting patient to therapist to therapy to present and past circumstances. The article
concludes that in spite of what appears to be common neurological processes, correlates, and consequences in the initial
response to trauma exposure, ethnocultural variables exercise major influence on perceived causes, symptom manifestations,
clinical parameters (i.e., onset, course, and outcome), interventions, and societal responses.