Psychological disorders occur in most, if not all, cultures of the world. However, there are differences in the way in which they are perceived, diagnosed, and treated. For example, in the United States, disorders are typically diagnosed using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and treatment of disorders such as schizophrenia and depression usually involves drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of these. Other cultures (and even some subcultures within the U.S.) have very different ways of addressing such conditions. For example, what American mental health professionals recognize as schizophrenia may be perceived as spiritual possession in another culture, and the treatment would, of course, be very different from how schizophrenia as a mental disorder is treated.
In this week’s Discussion, you will compare how mental illness or psychological disorders are experienced by people suffering from them, perceived by the culture in general, and diagnosed and treated by healers in at least one culture different from your own. You should recognize that cultural differences in psychological disorders may be due to a variety of factors, including what is considered appropriate emotional expression, the extent to which biological factors are understood as causes of mental illness (i.e., adherence to the medical model of mental illness), and belief in supernatural forces.
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