Psychology and culture
So you may know, or you may not, that I teach psychology. I spent a lot of time in school studying it and then tried to put it out of my head for very many years by working in different fields. I came back to the field in 2015 when I jumped back in the classroom to start teaching again and started to realize why I spent so much time studying it as an undergrad and graduate student.
One of the classes I get to teach is an introductory psychology class that can be an attempt to squeeze a broad knowledge of all of the disciplines within psychology into my students’ heads in anywhere from 7 to 15 weeks. It is like a track meet to get through the material some days. When a topic connects with my students though it is a wonderful energy to be surrounded by. One area that a lot of students enjoy learning about is clinical psychology, which has also been labelled abnormal psychology in the past, the study of psychological illness.
In class we take some time to define behavior that we think of as abnormal from a clinical perspective and one of the elements of that is the role of cultural norms in dictating what behavior is normal and what is not. This cultural component becomes important again when we talk about schizophrenia and how the outcomes for people with this condition are generally more positive in developing countries than they are in the developed world and we talk a bit about why that is in broad strokes.
This article about a man diagnosed with schizophrenia and the journey that he and his father have taken highlight some of the cultural issues inherent in this particular diagnosis and shine some light on how our perceptions and biases, at a cultural level, can have a significant impact on those living with these conditions.
I encourage you to take a read through it and learn a bit more about mental health in America (and around the world) and how schizophrenia tangles up biology and neurology and psychology and culture.