A new issue of Culture Medicine and Psychiatry has been released. Included are two articles related to recent psychiatric history in Israel and Malaysia. You will also find a Case Study questioning the exportation of the US recovery-oriented mental health system to the rest of the world. Titles, authors and abstracts are listed below.
From Posttrauma Intervention to Immunization of the Social Body: Pragmatics and Politics of a Resilience Program in Israel’s Periphery by Keren Friedman-Peleg and Yehuda C. Goodman
This article traces a critical change in the professional therapy of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): from treatment of a disorder borne by individuals to treatment of an anticipated disorder to be prevented by fortifying the entire population. A community resilience program in the city of Sderot in southern Israel, which has been subjected to Qassam rockets by its Palestinian neighbors across the border, serves as our case study. Drawing on an ethnographic study of this new therapeutic program, we analyze how the social body that the professionals attempt to immunize against trauma was treated. In particular, we follow the various practices used to expand the clinical. We found that the population was split into several groups on a continuum between the clinical and the preclinical, each receiving different treatment. Moreover, the social body managed according to this new form of PTSD was articulated through ethnic and geopolitical power relations between professionals from the country’s center and professionals from its periphery, and between the professionals and the city’s residents. Finally, we discuss how this Israeli case compares with other national sites of the growing globalization of PTSD, like Bali, Haiti and Ethiopia, which anthropologists have been exploring in recent years.
Malaysian Moslem Mothers’ Experience of Depression and Service Use by Nor Ba’yah Abdul Kadir and Antonia Bifulco
Standard psychiatric criteria for depression developed in the United States and United Kingdom are increasingly used worldwide to establish the prevalence of clinical disorders and to help develop services. However, these approaches are rarely sensitive to local and cultural expressions of symptoms or beliefs about treatment. Mismatch between diagnostic criteria and local understanding may result in underreporting of depression and underutilization of services. Little such research has been conducted in Malaysia, despite the acknowledged high rate of depression and low access to services. This study examines depression in Moslem Malay women living in Johor Bahru, Southern Peninsular Malaysia, to explore depression symptoms using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. The 61 women interviewed were selected on the basis of high General Health Questionnaire scores from a large questionnaire survey of 1,002 mothers. The illustrative analysis looks at descriptions of depressed mood, self-depreciation and suicidal ideation, as well as attitudes toward service use. The women gave full and open descriptions of their emotional symptoms, easily recognizable by standard symptom categories, although somatic symptoms were commonly included, and the spiritual context to understanding depression was also prevalent. However, few women had knowledge about treatment or sought medical services, although some sought help from local spiritual healers. Attending to such views of depression can help develop services in Malaysia.
Cultural Case Study: Culture, Stress and Recovery from Schizophrenia: Lessons from the Field for Global Mental Health by Neely Laurenzo Myers
This cultural case study investigates one U.S. psychosocial rehabilitation organization’s (Horizons) attempt to implement the recovery philosophy of the U.S. Recovery Movement and offers lessons from this local attempt that may inform global mental health care reform. Horizons’ “recovery-oriented” initiatives unwittingly mobilized stressful North American discourses of valued citizenship. At times, efforts to “empower” people diagnosed with schizophrenia to become esteemed self-made citizens generated more stressful sociocultural conditions for people whose daily lives were typically remarkably stressful. A recovery-oriented mental health system must account for people diagnosed with schizophrenia’s sensitivity to stress and offer consumers contextually relevant coping mechanisms. Any attempt to export U.S. mental health care practices to the rest of the world must acknowledge that (1) sociocultural conditions affect schizophrenia outcomes; (2) schizophrenia outcomes are already better in the developing world than in the United States; and (3) much of what leads to “better” outcomes in the developing world may rely on the availability of locally relevant techniques to address stress.
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