There is now a remarkable body of research that suggests that mental illnesses are not... spread evenly around the globe. They have appeared in different cultures in endlessly complex and unique forms. Indonesian men have been known to experience amok, in which a minor social insult launches an extended period of brooding punctuated by an episode of murderous rage. Southeastern Asian males sometimes suffer from koro, the debilitating certainty that their genitals are retracting into their body. Across the fertile crescent of the Middle East there is zar, a mental illness related to spirit possession that brings forth dissociative episodes of crying, laughing, shouting, and singing....If only there were a systematic way of studying and analyzing how the human mind works, something... oh, we could call it "science" for lack of a better word. Ah, but, no, no, what's the use? We can only cry, laugh, shout, and sing a song to diversity.
The remarkable diversity... is rapidly disappearing. A few mental illnesses identified and popularized in the United States — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultural boundaries and around the world with the speed of contagious diseases. Indigenous forms of mental illness and healing are being bulldozed by disease categories and treatments made in the USA.
January 17, 2010
Ethan Watters informs us: