Culture is a part of daily lives, even though it's not always evident. It affects our language, how we behave, and our social norms. It also has an effect on mental disorders, which is a very intoxicating thought of culture. Furthermore, mental illness has a massive negative connotation in America as well as around the world. If you look back in history people were admitted to hospitals and asylums for “having” a mental illness. This comes to the question of how much does culture and the society you live in affect your mental health and or mental illness?
In a recent study performed by the World Health Organization, they experimented to find the true correlation between industrialized countries and non-industrialized countries and the expansion, development of schizophrenia. Their findings were thought-provoking, intriguing, and quite alarming.
The researchers claimed that schizophrenia seemed to be much more severe in countries that are more developed than those that are not. They also found at urban locations seem to have more schizophrenics than rural areas. According to the scientists, this has to do with the stress involved in the specific location in which they live.
“Some cultural differences are also apparent in the kind of delusions that occur in schizophrenia patients. Often, the delusions tend to reflect the predominant themes and values of a person's culture. For example, in Ireland, where religious piety is highly valued, patients with schizophrenia often have delusions of sainthood. In industrially advanced countries like America, patients' delusions tend to focus on sinister uses of technology and surveillance. Patients may report that they are being spied on by their televisions or that they are being X-rayed when they walk down the street. In Japan, a country that prizes honor and social conformity, delusions often revolve around slander or the fear of being humiliated publicly. In Nigeria, where mental illness is believed to be caused by evil spirits, delusions may take the form of witches or ancestral ghosts.”
Another statistic discovered by the same organization is that predominantly Americans with a mental illness struggle with their urges being violent while in other countries they have no struggle with violence or angry outbreaks but with people skills and or communication skills. This research from the World Health Organization goes to show how substantial sociology-culture factors into our brains.
“Schizophrenic patients in Western developed countries showed a higher frequency of depressive symptoms, primary delusions, thought insertion and thought broadcasting, while in non-Western developing countries, visual and directed auditory hallucinations were more frequent [SARTORIUS et al. 1986; JABLENSKY et al 1992] In a special comparative study of DOSMED…”(Determinants of Outcome of Severe Mental Disorders) “...conducted in Agra, India, and Ibadan, Nigeria, important differences in the manifestations of schizophrenia were found, which led the investigators to conclude that the content of psychotic symptoms tends to identify critical problems existing in a particular culture [KATZ et al. 1988].” To sum up that quote, it is basically saying that there are different triggers within each society for the individual person diagnosed with this disorder. That can mean that someone from America, a western civilization, could be triggered by the news on the TV and have a psychotic meltdown and potentially hurt others. While on the other side of the world in per say India a person could be triggered by their religion and “hear” God, but not necessarily do anything violent. This speaks wonders about the influence culture has on the brain in tiny ways we are unaware about. It shows that what is popular in the society the person lives in is usually what they react to.
I am not saying by any means that people with mental illnesses are harmful or dangerous but in the wrong setting, they have the potential to be. This article was written to inform you of how culture affects us more than just language, and the way of life but also the ways of thought processing.