The Americanization of Mental Health

A very interesting article in The New York Times, by Ethan Watters, describe’s how the US’s view of mental health is homogenising mental health:

“For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science, believing that our approaches reveal the biological basis of psychic suffering and dispel prescientific myths and harmful stigma. There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness.”

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One thought on “The Americanization of Mental Health

  1. I understand that Western, never mind, US, perspectives on mental illness are very culturally bound, but I’d like to know what are ‘the indigenous forms of mental illness’ which the author refers to?