Cultural Illness…

Culture plays a role in mental life. Our thoughts and perceptions are shaped by the books we read, by the movies we see; by the language we speak.

Perhaps less obviously, culture plays a role in mental disorder as well.

The health-language we use predicates many of the symptoms and illnesses available to us.

Just think back to those black and white films with women fainting so often. People were always fainting.

Why?

The answer is cultural expectation.

Hysteria too was once a real mental disorder.

What happened to that?

Hysteria went away for the same reason that fainting did. People stopped believing in it.

The idea of culturally oriented mental disorder raises some interesting questions about the proliferation of mental disease in our society today.

America became a leader in the fields of psychology and psychiatry over the course of the 20th century. Universities and colleges across the nation have departments dedicated to the study of the history, the science, the treatment, and the effects of mental health and mental disorder.

The focus has been less on mental health and more on mental disorder. Famously, the “big book of psychiatry”, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry, has become such a prolific list of symptoms describing mental illness that it is impossible to flip through the book and without diagnosing yourself with numerous mental illnesses.

For more of this article by local writer Eric Martin, follow this link: Cultural Illness

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