The New York Times Magazine has a great discussion of the effects of the exportation of American ideas about mental illness, titled appropriately, The Americanization of Mental Illness by Ethan Watters, based on his forthcoming book, Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, coming out this month from Free Press. The article is quite good, offering some intriguing cases, such as the rise of virulent, American-style anorexia nervosa in Hong Kong, the effect of possession beliefs on communities? reactions to schizophrenia, and how the narrative of mental illness as ?brain disease? might actually lead to great stigma as it spreads and replaces local understandings. The article is well worth a read, and I?m looking forward to the book.
During my guestblogging stint, I have mentioned a couple of American expats who exported their problematic conceptions of “mental illness” all over the world from their base in Toronto. Ken Zucker and Ray Blanchard are egregious examples of this problem, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s one of the most important political issues of the 21st century, but it is one of the most difficult for both practitioners and the general public to step back and see in its historical and geopolitical context. It involves challenging some of the most deeply held beliefs about how the world works.
from Neuroanthropology by gregdowney
This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine includes an excellent article about the globalization of American ways of conceptualizing, treating, and indeed, experiencing mental illness. In “The Americanization of Mental Illness” science journalist Ethan Watters tells a story which, in these neuro-obsessed times, we rarely encounter in popular publications: a narrative about how many experiences of suffering and distress are profoundly shaped by perceptions, expectations, beliefs — what typically gets glossed as “culture” (we’ll return to this point) — and how these perceptions, expectations, etc. are rapidly changing. Cultural psychiatrists and medical anthropologists will be familiar with most of Watters’ examples, and many will, no doubt, find much to argue with. However, I think that many specialists will agree that Watters has done a wonderful job of bringing this set of issues a level of public attention which it rarely receives. The Times Magazine article is based on Watters’ book which is about to be released–Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche–so happily there’s more on the way.
As Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology.net, I was kept awake until late at night by an article in the New York Times Magazine – yesterday for reading, today for writing. It is a fascinating article about a kind of globalisation that isn?t talked about much outside the university, written by Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, released two days ago. It?s about the globalisation of the Western conception of mental health and illness
Intelligence agencies in the United States under fire as airport security undergoes review worldwide,
President Barack Obama has criticised the United States’ intelligence agencies for failing to disrupt an attempt to blow up a US-bound passenger place on Christmas day. In a news conference on Tuesday, Obama said agents had sufficient information to uncover the 25 December plot to blow up a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam but ‘failed to connect the dots.’ The President reportedly described the failing as a ‘screw-up’ during a meeting in the White House situation room, adding that ‘we dodged a bullet but just barely.’