Cultural issues in classification and diagnosis

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Cultural issues in classification and diagnosis

A classification system should identify and diagnose mental problems in the same way across different cultures. Sme disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression, seem to occur universally. However, in some Asian cultures, where it is unacceptable to show emotions, individuals seek help for physical rather than mental problems e.g KUA ET AL (1993) found that 73% of people in china who presented with chest or abdominal pains or headaches were later found to have a mental health problem.

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Cultural relativism

This is the idea that the behaviour of the individual must be judged in terms if the specific laws, social norms and customs of their particular culture. This makes it impossible to make absolute judgements about what is normal and abnormal.

The importance of considering culture relativism is demonstrated by research dine by MCCAJOR HALL, who carried out extensive research which uncovered 36 CULTURE-BOUND SYNDROMES (patterns of behaviour only that occur in certain cultures) these are groups of symptoms occurring together, which are only diagnosed in particular cultures (I.e. they are not universal) e.g. Dharma in India - severe anxiety and hypochondria, usually focused in the loss of semen, discolouration of urine, feelings and weakness and exhaustion.

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Culture - Deviation from stat. norms

This definition is culturally relative as social norms are obviously influenced by cultural factors. What may be seen as 'abnormal' therefore diagnosable for a psychologist in the UK may not be the same in another country e.g. Hearing voices

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Culture - Failure to function adequately

Definitions of adequate functioning are also culturally specific. Ideas about what is 'adequate' functioning vary within as we'll as between cultures. For example, in some cultures, those in lower social classes may be less hygienic, less inkwell to work and less likely to socialise than those n middle r upper social classes. It's could lead to a judgement that they are not functioning adequately, however their files tykes are just non-traditional.

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Culture - deviation from Id. mental health

Many of the criteria of the ideal mental health model are culture-bound. If they are applied to non-westerners for example, we would see a higher incidence of abnormality. E.g. People in collectivist cultures do not value independence, and do not strive for self centred goal. Does this make them abnormal?

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Culture - deviation form soc. norms

Behaviour which is anti social or undesirable I.e. by nature abnormal. In any society there are standards of of acceptable behaviour that are set by the social group. The social norms include morals as well as expectation about how people should think. Western culture permits sex between consenting adults of any gender but regards some others behaviours as sexually deviant. I the last homosexuality was classified as deviant behaviour I.e. normal.

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kua et al

FERNANDO (1991) argues that when diagnosing any sort of mental disorder across cultures misunderstanding are possible. It's could be due to the fact of language difficulties, lack of understanding of religious issues, different moral codes and lack of trust.

Also WINTER (1999) goes slightly further than Fernando suggesting that there may be deliberate bias contributes to variations in diagnosis between groups. He thought that the upbringing and training of western healthcare professionals may lead them to be 'biased againstor sufficiently sensitive to, the culture and social a situations black, working class of female clients.

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