Culture and Mental Illness

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Imperialism instilled a feeling of inferiority among colonized populations. In certain instances, this feeling of inferiority has developed into a more complex psychological network of hatred and violence. Over the course of history, powerful western nations constantly invaded the weaker nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Subjugating the people and turning them into subservient populations, western powers oppressed these populations. The oppression then resulted in the transformation of the psychology of the oppressed. The prevailing injustice and the inequality between the colonizer and the colonized, consequently results in a mentality that rationalizes violence and hatred. Such mentality stems from the feeling of prejudice exercised by the colonizer. Frantz Fanon, a French psychiatrist, explores the plethora of mental disorders that afflicted many Algerians from years of fighting against the French colonial rule. During the time of liberation, Fanon describes the war as a total war, a situation achieved only after heightened frustrations and one in which all members of society are affected and, therefore involved in. In essence, colonialism does not merely control a foreign territory, but it also controls the consciousness of the population. As observed in the aggressive behavior of the French colonists towards Algerians, power and violence play an important role in influencing the psychiatric disorders in oppressed populations.
While the age of imperialism is presumably over, the age of globalization continued the legacy. In essence, globalization serves as a softer euphemism for colonialism. These oppressed populations are still stripped off their identities due to the overwhelming influence of the op...

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...olonial era and the beginning of globalization, western nations felt the need to spread their culture to non-western communities. After all, the ‘superior’ western culture could only help the backward culture of non-western populations to advance. Simultaneously, this led to the spread of western methods of treatment to many parts of the world in an effort to homogenize diagnosis and treatment. As observed in Indonesia, Algeria and Sri Lanka, local context played a major role in influencing psychiatric disorders. The symptomology exhibited in those three cases contrasts with established western thought. Despite the differences, the west always feels the need to extend its ideas to non-western context in order to maintain its influence. Undermining the local culture by reorienting their beliefs of trauma is the western attempt to homogenize psychiatric thought.
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