"It is not a sign of a healthy mind to be
well-adjusted to a sick society."
"Mental health professionals in the West, and in
the US in particular, create official
categories of mental diseases and promote them in a diagnostic manual that
has become the worldwide standard.
American researchers and
institutions run most of the premier scholarly journals and host top
conferences in the fields of psychology and psychiatry.
companies dole out large sums for research and spend billions marketing
medications for mental illnesses." -
"A survey published in the early 1970s found that
whereas a majority (59%) of people who had visited a professional
psychotherapist for emotional
distress reported having been "helped" by the consultation, much larger
majorities of people who had consulted
a clergyman (78%) or
a physician without specialized
psychological training (76%) or - get this - a
lawyer (77%) reported the
same thing." -
Labeling mental illness as
based creates greater tension than
labeling mental illness
as a disorder of the spirit -
such as demon possession,
incorrect thinking or
Individuals with "schizophrenia" in
Third World countries fare better over
time than those living in "developed" nations.
Over the centuries every
culture has developed unique ways to deal with someone who is behaving in a
culturally non-normative way.
"Muslim and Swahili spirits are not
exorcised in the Christian sense of casting out. Rather they are
coaxed with food and goods, feted with
song and dance. They are placated, settled, reduced in malfeasance." - Juli
reactions from family members correlate with higher relapse rates for
people who have been diagnosised as schizophrenia.
Reactions such as
overprotectiveness or constant intrusiveness may cause relapse.
"Spirit-possession beliefs had
Critically, the story allows the person with
schizophrenia to rejoin society when health is restored.
individual enjoying a time of relative grounding could, at least temporarily,
retake his or her responsibilities in
the kinship group.
Since the illness was seen as
the work of outside
forces, it was understood as an
affliction for the sufferer but not as an identity." - Ethan Watters
In a study conducted in Turkey those who labeled
schizophrenic behavior as akil
hastaligi (illness of the brain
or reasoning abilities) were more
inclined to assert that schizophrenics were aggressive and
should not live freely in the
community than those who saw the disorder as ruhsal hastagi (a
disorder of the spiritual or inner self).
Another study, which
looked at populations in Germany, Russia and Mongolia,
found that "irrespective of place endorsing biological factors as
the cause of
schizophrenia is associated with
a desire for social
Unfortunately social distance
increases isolation enhancing schizophrenia.
"Behavior can not be
It can simply comport with, or not comport with, our
expectations of how people
Analogously, brains that produce
atypical behaviors are
They are brains
that produce atypical behaviors.
The erosion of
responsibility is the most pernicious effect of the
role of psychiatry has come to play in
It has successfully replaced huge chunks of
individual accountability with diagnoses, clinical histories and what turn out
to be pseudoscientific
explanations for deviant
behavior." - Irwin Savodnik
psychiatrists have amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that
is culturally specific.
In some Southeast Asian cultures, men have
been known to experience what is called amok, an episode of murderous
rage followed by amnesia; men in the region also suffer from koro, which
is characterized by the debilitating certainty that their genitals are
retracting into their bodies.
Levant there is zar,
a condition related
to spirit-possession beliefs that brings forth dissociative episodes of
laughing, shouting and singing.
"Behind the promotion of Western
ideas of mental health and healing lie a variety of
cultural assumptions .
Westerners share, for instance, evolving beliefs about what type of
life event is likely to make one psychologically
traumatized, and we agree
that venting emotions by talking is more healthy than
biomedical advances are hard to separate from
our particular cultural
beliefs." - Ethan Watters
troubles - from anxiety,
squabbles to misbehavior of many
kinds - is to be viewed not as an inevitable part of
the human comedy, but as
psychopathology to be
treated with powerful
"Mainstream Western psychology has limited
the definition of mental
health to the interpersonal
context of an urban-industrial society.
All that lies beyond the
citified psyche has seemed of
no human relevance - too
frightening to think about." -
vast broadening of the definition of mental
disorders has skeptics suspicious of the motivations
of the American Psychiatric
Association and the pharmacuetical
"Mental illness is
feared and has such a stigma because it represents a reversal of what
Westernized people have come to value as the essence of
human nature. Western culture highly values
an illusion of self-control and
control of circumstance,
we become abject when
mentation that seems more changeable, less restrained and less
controllable, more open to outside influence, than we imagine our own to be." -
The metastasizing Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders of the American Psychiatric
Association appears to be caught up in a contemporary
narcissistic quest for
individual perfection through the
application of neurotoxins.
"Western mental-health discourse
introduces core components of Western culture, including
a theory of human nature,
a definition of personhood,
a sense of time and memory and
a source of moral authority.
None of this is universal.
One set of ideas about pain and
suffering is being presented as definitive.
There is no one definitive
psychology." - Derek Summerfield
neurotoxins are necessary to create
a civil and just social
culture of perfectly
conforming individuals capable of serving
"We say we are being
kind, but our actions suggest otherwise.
Viewing those with mental
disorders as diseased sets them apart and may lead to our perceiving them as physically
Biochemical aberrations make
them a different species." - Sheila Mehta
The implicit ideal -
the properly medicated healthy, normal
and truly happy camper - will harbor
no serious worries or
animosities, no sadness over
losses or failures, no
disappointments with family, no doubts about themselves or
conflicts with others, and,
certainly not the expression of
strange ideas or behaviors defined in media
"For more than a generation the West has
aggressively spread mental illness around the world in the name of science
changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental
illness in other cultures.
In the end,
psychiatrists and anthropologists tell us is that all
mental illness, including
PTSD and even
schizophrenia, can be
every bit as influenced by
cultural beliefs and expectations today as hysterical-leg paralysis
or the vapors or zar or any other mental illness ever
experienced in the history
of human madness." - Ethan Watters
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