January 9, 2010

THEY'RE SOCIAL FADS, NOT PHYSICAL DISEASES:

The Americanization of Mental Illness (ETHAN WATTERS, 1/08/10. NY Times)

AMERICANS, particularly if they are of a certain leftward-leaning, college-educated type, worry about our country’s blunders into other cultures. In some circles, it is easy to make friends with a rousing rant about the McDonald’s near Tiananmen Square, the Nike factory in Malaysia or the latest blowback from our political or military interventions abroad. For all our self-recrimination, however, we may have yet to face one of the most remarkable effects of American-led globalization. We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

This unnerving possibility springs from recent research by a loose group of anthropologists and cross-cultural psychiatrists. Swimming against the biomedical currents of the time, they have argued that mental illnesses are not discrete entities like the polio virus with their own natural histories. These researchers have amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that mental illnesses have never been the same the world over (either in prevalence or in form) but are inevitably sparked and shaped by the ethos of particular times and places. 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. Across the fertile crescent of the Middle East there is zar, a condition related to spirit-possession beliefs that brings forth dissociative episodes of laughing, shouting and singing.


MORE:
Young children who are smacked 'go on to be more successful' (Daniel Martin, 04th January 2010, Daily Mail)

Children who have been physically admonished at a young age performed better on all counts

Young children who are smacked by their parents grow up to be happier and more successful than those who have never been hit, research claims.

It found that children who are smacked before the age of six perform better at school when they are teenagers.

They are also more likely to do voluntary work and to want to go to university than those who have never been physically disciplined.


Posted by Orrin Judd at January 9, 2010 10:16 AM
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