Cultural factors influence the expression of psychopathology
Chentsova-dutton, Yulia E.; Tsai, Jeanne L.
Lilienfeld, Scott O.; O'Donohue, William T.
Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, New York, NY, 2007.
Because we live in an increasingly multicultural world, many mental health professionals are faced with the challenge of assessing and treating individuals whose cultural contexts vary significantly from their own. Consider the following scenario: A young woman complains that she is suffering from attacks by angry spirits. She tells you that these spirits visit her at night (she can see vague outlines of the spirits and hear them whispering) and sit on top of her, rendering her immobile and helpless. Do you think that this woman's behavior is normal or abnormal? The answer to this question depends in part on the woman's cultural context. In mainstream American contexts, these symptoms are rare and often associated with schizophrenia. However, in Hmong contexts, these symptoms (referred to as the tsog tsuam, or evil spirit who smothers) are common and not associated with mental illness. Thus, the same behavior may be interpreted very differently depending on the cultural context in which it occurs. Therefore, in addition to functional impairment and subjective distress, mental health professionals must consider cultural norms and values when assessing and treating mental illness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved) (Source: chapter)