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Anna Hofmann

Pd 3

Annotated Source List

Reuters, T. (2015). Acta psychiatrica scandinavica. ​Web of Science.​ Retrieved from

Definition of the phrase ​Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica,​ which was used in a part of my

Watters, E. (2010, January 08). The Americanization of mental illness. ​The New York Times.
Retrieved from ​

In this ​article​, the writer is exploring how mental illness differs in and outside the US.
World-wide, it is known that Americans are privileged for having access to the world’s most
advanced medicinal technology. With this comes an increased chance of potential diagnosis of
other non-discovered illnesses, specifically those of the brain. People in different
cultures/countries tend to develop mental illnesses that are specific to that general geographical
area. Those who have have these diseases show signs and symptoms that correspond with others
of similar geographical, cultural, and racial diagnoses to themselves. For example, in Southeast
Asian cultures, a many men have been diagnosed with “amok”, where they have temporary fits
of rage followed by a period of peaceful amnesia. The cause of this is unknown, and no cases
similar have been discovered anywhere except the region of Southeast Asia.

Application to Research:
My question is based around why different mental illness occur across different cultures.
This article perfectly helps me gather information that can be used throughout the year because
of the examples it gives of real-world situations. For example, the article describes “amok” as a
mental illness only found in Southeast Asian cultures. This applies to my question, in that why is
this so?

McDonald, S. (25 October 2017). Cultural norms and sensitivities. ​​ Retrieved

This travel blog highlights some “manners” that are seen differently in other cultures, and
how to be sure that no one is offended during your interactions. This is important because it
shows how people around the world raise their children to behave, which could potentially affect
their mental health.

Henderson, D. C. (2010). Culture and psychiatry. ​Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of

General Hospital Psychiatry (​ Sixth Edition). (p 629-637). Retrieved from

This ​chapter of a book​ highlights the misconceptions when it comes to identifying if a
condition someone may have is indeed a culture-bound syndrome or only a variation of an illness
in the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th
Edition”, the result of many years of psychological research and is where mental illnesses and
conditions are defined. But, in this field, the illnesses discussed are mostly western, whether they
are considered common or rare. This is mostly done because of the lack of knowledge of mental
illness across a majority of the world, especially those areas which may be considered isolated.
When information from regions such as this are relayed however, it may be altered in
comparison to the westernized systems. For example, common etiology in those areas may place
the blame on upset ancestors, magic, and evil spells rather than medicinal reasons.

This reading was very beneficial to me because it helps me understand that there are not
only unique differences in the mental illnesses, that they may be defined completely differently
than what may be seen as normal symptoms. For example, it was stated that in some cultures,
hallucinations could be considered normal and only a result of voodoo practices or something
similar. But, in westernized terms, this would be considered probably a form of schizophrenia.
This helped me become more knowledgeable on this side of the research process and how
difficult it may be for researchers to be sure that the information is being relayed correctly across
the world.

[William Divale]. (7 June 2014). Culture bound mental illness symptoms. [Video file]. Retrieved

This 15-minute ​video​ discusses some of the common traits of culture-bound syndromes
(CBS) and why they occur. William Divale, the narrator and assumed creator, is a professor of
anthropology at York College. He has his PhD in anthropology with an emphasis on
cross-cultural studies. He discussed the extents of multiple CBS’s and their symptoms and
history. An example of one od these explained is amok, found in Malaysia, where a person will
experience a short period of brooding followed by an outburst of aggressive and “crazy”
behavior. This is the origin of the popular saying “run amuk”. Another thing that Divale
discussed was why two different categories of mental illnesses fall under two general dynamics
of societies/cultures. This is that of a collectivistic society (values group settings) and the
individualistic society (values independent actions). A CBS in a collectivistic culture is more
likely to be more hysterical and physical, while a CBS in an individualistic culture is more likely
to be considered depressive, both based on the recorded symptoms.

Actually hearing and listening to this analysis really helped me understand the technical terms
used. I feel like the information discussed was complex in a sense that it might be found in an
academic journal. But, these can be long and confusing. Having the information summed up and
explained simplified it so that I could easily understand. I thought that it was interesting that
Divale came up with the conclusion that there are generally two types of CBS’s, and they each fit
into a certain type of culture. I am excited that I was able to find this video because I believe that
Divale is someone who I am interested in potentially emailing/interviewing.

​ etrieved from
Griffith, L. (21 February 2014). Culture-bound syndrome. ​Wiley Online Library. R

This is a complex definition of a culture-bound syndrome.

Rebhun, L.A. (2004). Culture-bound syndromes. In: Ember C.R., Ember M. (eds).​ Encyclopedia
of Medical Anthropology.​ Retrieved from

This is a small introductory piece that discusses the development of the term
culture-bound syndrome by psychologist, Yap.

Culture-bound syndromes. (22 May 2015). ​Health 24.​ Retrieved from

This ​article​ highlighted some of the skepticism associated with the diagnosing and
treatment of culture-bound illnesses. One thing to take into account is that if the symptoms of the
person align with indeed a culture-bound syndrome, or are only a variation of a recognized
Western disorder. For example, schizophrenia is found across almost all cultures. Based on this,
the signs and symptoms can differ. This idea could be considered one “viewpoint” that opposes
the entire existence of culture-bound syndromes. But, it is more commonly argued against.

Reading about the “controversy” that surrounds the diagnosis of culture-bound illnesses
helps me gain an awareness of the helpfulness of the research done in favor of their existence. As
of right now, I am not completely sure about how I could incorporate this information into my
research. It could possibly be used as a way to “raise awareness” for making sure that
culture-bound illnesses are recognized in general, or maybe I could use it to form one of my
interview questions. However, I do not think that it has enough importance to change my
hypothesis statement.

Simons, R. C. and Hughes, C. C. (6 December 2012). The culture-bound syndromes - Folk

illnesses of psychiatric and anthropological interest. Springer Science & Business Media.
Retrieved from

This​ portion of a textbook​ hits on many points relating to culture-bound syndromes
through a more psychiatric viewpoint. In the anthropological world, it has been debated that if
these conditions are solely culture-based and normal to those areas, are are actually an
“authentic” case of a disease or a disorder. But, it could possibly be narrowed down to two
categories: “emic”, where indigenous cultural situations can be to blame (wrong-doing by the
patient and taboo associations such as witches), and “etic”, where the patients social status and
and legitimate “sick-role”.

One interesting thing in the preface of the book was the question “Does biology,
especially neurophysiology, have a role in explaining the manifestations of any of the
syndromes?”. While this is essentially a portion of my research question, I was unable to find the
answer due to the online excerpt only being a sample of the textbook (and it costing $88). Also,
because of the nature of the text, I was unable to understand and comprehend portions due to my
age and inexperience. However, there were some interesting takes discussed even though
full-access was not enabled. One thing that I found interesting was the establishment between
“emic” and “etic” situations/categories. It seems that these are the separational pieces when it
comes to identifying a reason for a culture-bound syndrome. However, even though this is
categorized, it is impossible to determine which is which in various real-life situations.

Leach, J. (10 October 2017). Cultural differences in mental health?. ​OpenLearn.​ Retrieved from
This ​research article​ discusses the possible causes of these cultural mental illnesses and
how they may be perceived across the world. The idea is introduced that if an outside doctor or
psychologist diagnoses a person of a different culture with a mental illness, it may be incorrect
because the way that that person is accustomed to thinking, being raised in a different
environment. For example, a person being loud and obnoxious could either be seen as a
symptom of mania in bipolar disorder, or just a common characteristic of someone that is raised
in that cultural area. Reasons listed for these differences in mental illness are the use of healing
rituals to emphasize gaining hope for treatment, or the fact that there is often a lack of resources
for the person affected.

Application to Research:
This has been one of the first articles that I have read that has highlighted some suspected
reasons for unique mental illnesses across cultures, which is the sole subject of my research
topic. One quote from the article that stood out to me that I found difficult to paraphrase in my
summary is “when the mental health practitioner and their patient come from different cultural
backgrounds it may be difficult for the practitioner to know if what they are seeing is a symptom
of a mental illness or simply a different way of thinking, feeling or behaving linked to the
patient’s background.” I thought that this subject was very important to consider while
researching and that I should look into the causes further.

Andrade, S. (16 April 2017). Cultural influences on mental health. ​The Public Health Advocate.
Retrieved from

This ​educational/university article​ discusses many points on how the a person’s culture
affects their mental wellbeing. To begin this article, the author starts by pointing out that in
general, mental illness can be affected by a combination of biological and genetic factors,
psychology, and society. However, it is not always obvious what the case may be for many,
especially for those in a specific cultural setting that might be considered “different” from the
traditional means. For example, African American groups have been proven to be more likely
than whites to handle potential mental illness problems either on their own or with a spiritual
healer than with a professional. This has lead to many secondary mental illness cases.

While this article did stray away from my original topic, some great points were made
that could potentially help me in the future determine the solution to my hypothesis. For
example, it mentions that schizophrenia is a common and universal illness across many cultures
and countries, without much variation. However, depression and post traumatic stress disorder
have been proven to be more associated with cultural and societal factors.
Burton, N. (2012, June 6). The culture of mental illness. ​Psychology Today.​ Retrieved from

In this article, a psychiatrist tells of his knowledge of how various “typical” mental
disorders can be interpreted in different cultures and countries. For example, he describes how in
more traditional/isolated societies, such as the Punjabi, depression is not prevalent. This term is
not in the people’s vocabulary, and typical symptoms of Americanized depression are seen as
solely physical issues, such as fatigue, headaches, and chest pain. Because of their unawareness
of the concept of depression in general, they are less likely to develop it.

Application to Research:
This article introduced me to the term “cultural-bound syndromes”, which is described as
a psychic phenomena that is exclusive to certain cultures. Because this is the first time I am
being acquainted with this, I am excited that someone has finally put my idea into a useable and
more simple phrase. Also, this article cited a few examples of specific mental disorders that are
discoverable only in South Asia. Definite illnesses like this are helpful to me because they give
me essential background information, and the way these were explained in the article given a
simple reasoning that allows it to be repeated in my final papers.

López, S. R., & Guarnaccia, P. J. (2000). Cultural Psychopathology: Uncovering the Social
World of Mental Illness. ​Annual Review of Psychology,​ ​51(​ 1), 571-598. Retrieved from

This ​academic journal ​highlights the differences between social and emotional struggles
of those of many world cultures and cross-american minorities. The term “cultural psychopathy”
is used to explain how based on where a person grew up/a place where a person has ties to
specific genetic or emotional region can affect their mental illnesses. This difference can be just
varying examples of universal diseases (anxiety, depression, etc.), or, it can be a new or unique
disease to that culture/region. For example, the journal focuses on a supposed type of anxiety
common in Latino people from the Caribbean, ​ataque de nervios ​(attack of the nerves). Although
it is considered a sub-illness, it has many unusual symptoms including trembling, attacks of
crying and screaming uncontrollably, and signs of physical aggression. The term “cultural
psychopathy” relates to this unique disorder because of its rareness and unfamiliarity to any other

Application to Research:
Because this was the first journal I have read this year, I believe my knowledge regarding
my topic has increased due to the surplus of solid information given. It is helpful to read articles
that are written by those that are passionate and very familiar with the same subject that you are
researching. Also, the journal went very in-depth on the type of anxiety ​ataque de nervios​ which
helped me have a solid piece of evidence when writing my own paper.

Dowrick, C. (May 2013). Depression as a culture bound syndrome: implications for primary
care. ​British Journal of General Practice,​ 63(610), 229-230. Retrieved from

This​ issue chapter​ discusses how depression can be seen as both a universal mental
illness and a culture bound syndrome. Based on the specific culture or region, a person’s age,
physical condition, and need for support all impact the way that they are diagnosed. Also, the
fact that if depression in general is considered culture bound, it would (usually) only be known
as that because of how it is common in the United States rather than, say, Southeast Asia (where
other culture-bound illnesses are seen often). But, as of 2013, when this article was written, the
US is the center resource for and has the most prominent in the world when it comes to being
“trusted” when it comes to mental illness and research. But, the author suggests that as cultures
rise, they also fall. He backs this up by saying that within the next 20-30 years, countries like
China, India, and the Middle East will “rise up” to become more politically and economically
dominant. This change could potentially affect the “dynamics” of culture bound syndrome and
what is considered normal/universal or not.

I thought that it was interesting to gain a more abstract description of how a country’s economic
prominence in the world can potentially affect the mental illnesses associated with that region.
But, I have not seen/read any other sources that attribute the likelihood of a CBS to this. At first,
I did not think that this article/chapter would appeal to my topic based on its title which looked
like it would focus more on universal mental illnesses rather than those specific or unique to a
culture. But, while there was a section or two that discusses this, it also talked about the CBS’s
as well.

Nasser, L. (8 January 2012). Do some cultures have their own ways of going mad?. ​Boston
Globe.​ Retrieved from

This ​news article​ discusses the controversiality of culture-bound syndromes. It is debated
if illnesses such as kyofusho, brain fag (fag is slang for fatigue in South Africa), or pibloktoq are
indeed entirely unique to the culture that they are identified in, or if they are only a “branch” of a
more westernized disease. For example, a person may be diagnosed with kyofusho when they
feel as if their actions or appearance offends others during social situations. But, it could be
argued that this is just a form of social anxiety. These illnesses and 22 more are noted in the 1994
edition of the DSM, which is created by mostly American psychiatrists. They are characterized
as culture-bound syndromes because of their single association with one culture, demographic, or
area. But, what exactly defines a culture? Solely American mental illnesses such as multiple
personality disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome could be considered culture-bound as well,
then. However, no western illnesses were labeled as culture-bound in the DSM.

This article further fuels my curiosity about the controversiality of the term
“culture-bound” and the ways that it can be categorized. It has become clear to me that this is a
widely debated about subject and that depending on the area a person lives, their interpretations
of mental illness can be different also. One quote from the article that stuck with me is “If this is
true — if it’s culture that decides what’s “crazy” and what’s reasonable behavior — then there
may be no such thing as an illness that ​isn’t c​ ulture-bound. It’s not that a handful of disorders no
longer belong in a cultural appendix; it’s that perhaps they all do.”

​ etrieved from
Brooks, J. (12 February 2001). Early abuse leads to later aggression. ​WebMD. R

This WebMD article discusses how the longest child abuse study has finally come to a
conclusion: children who are violently abused as a child have a greater tendency to be a more
violent adult. This relates to culture-bound syndromes because it explains how a person’s
upbringing can truly affect their actions/brains later on in life.

Arkowitz, H. & Lilienfeld, S. O. (1 November 2009). Foreign afflictions: mental disorders across
​ etrieved from
country borders. ​Scientific American. R

This ​article​ discusses the different types of mental illnesses across many countries and
cultures and their identifications as culture-bound syndromes. A culture bound syndrome is a
mental disorder that is unique to a certain society. However, there is a widespread disagreement
about the origin of these illnesses. While some physicians and psychologists believe that every
culture-bound syndrome is essentially a branch of a more “mainstream” illness (ex: depression as
a whole), while others think that there is evidence that these syndromes are unique within
themselves. For example, many Southeast Asian men experience what they call koro, a condition
where the person believes that their sexual organs are retracting into their bodies. Some may say
that this disorder cannot be categorized under anything western traditional.

Finding this article really helped me narrow my interest area and get a better idea of what
I want to focus on in my research question/hypothesis. While I do have a defined subject, I still
believe that I must further specify either a region, disease etc. Also, because of the use of the
word “culture-bound syndrome” in now a good amount of the articles that I have read, I would
like to somehow incorporate it into to research. However, this article was written in 2009 (9
years old), so that might be a concern of mine.

Simons, R. (1 November 2001). Introduction to culture-bound syndromes. ​Psychiatric Times​,

18(11). Retrieved from

This ​issue of a journal​ describes the definition of culture-bound syndromes, along with
various examples throughout the world. As explained in Western psychiatry, they are defined as
manifestations of structural and functional elements operating in the societies in which they are
found. While this definition is broad and somewhat general, it highlights the uncertainties that
the anthropology community has about culture-bound syndromes. Many doctors have noted that
many of the so called “culture-bound syndromes” are not actually syndromes, but there is a lack
of a better term. An acceptable way of changing this is to name these cases “diagnostic entities”,
yet because of the awkward nature, it has not taken flight.

The way that this author described culture-bound syndromes allows a reader who already
understands some information about the topic to be able to relate. But, it would have been more
useful if he had started more simply in order to create a common point. Because of the nature of
the writing, small points are able to be taken out rather than a main idea. For me, this is useful
because having a complete and well-rounded understanding of this subject is what allows me to
become more knowledgeable in my explanations.

Borchard, T. J. (2014). Mental illness across cultures: An interview with Gayathri Ramprasad. ​Retrieved from ​

In this ​interview​, the founder of ASHA International, Gayathri Ramprasad, answers
questions asked by Therese J. Borchard, editor. As a child, Ramprasad struggled with depression
and anxiety. But, because she lived in India, her outreach options were very limited due to the
fact that doctors there do not (or did not) recognize either as a serious, neurobiological disorder.
To most people in India, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are seen as a curse sent
by a demonic spirit or as a sign of weakness. Through her organization, Ramprasad aims to help
other children all across the world, in similar situations as herself, get help if they have a mood

Application to Research:
As Americans, our only point of view on mental illness is what we can see around us and
what we learn through our education. In school, we are taught about how mental illnesses are
medical disorders rather than things fictional. In India (and presumably other countries/cultures),
the children are taught that mental illness may be something brought about through the spiritual
world. This belief ingrained into children's minds can lead those who do have mental illnesses to
believe that it is their fault, which can then affect them in a negative way. Because of this, over
time, the variations of mental illnesses prevalent in India can differ from those that are “popular”
here in the US. This applies to my question in that there are differences between the mental
disorders throughout cultures, but I still need to address why this happens.

Johnson, E. (15 March 2017). Nature vs. nurture and the effects of mental illness. [Web log
​ etrieved from
post]. ​MHA Lancaster. R

This credible​ blog article​ discusses the common themes of nature vs. nurture when it
comes to being diagnosed with a mental illness. While the answer is not definite, many scientists
believe that both nature and nurture have an effect on the person. For illnesses such as
depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, doctors have found that genetics are usually to
blame, in a sense that at least one other family member has been diagnosed in the past. One
notable quote, said by Dr. Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health, is “It is not a
question of genes versus environment. It is a question of how genes interact with whatever the
environmental factors might be. And that is probably true of all of the disorders that we call
mental illness,”. Mood disorders such as depression are often attributed to childhood trauma.

This source was useful in understanding some of the background information regarding
the debatable nature vs. nurture topic of mental illness in general. Although I did not realize in
the beginning of doing my research, I believe that this subject is very relatable to my overall
topic of culture-bound mental illnesses. My research question involves if these illnesses are
adopted through genetics or experiences, and why there is not a seen consistency throughout all

Ford-Martin, P. A. (2002). Psychosocial disorders. In D. S. Blanchfield & J. L. Longe (Eds.),

The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine​ (2nd ed., Vol. 4, pp. 2767-2769). Detroit: Gale.
Retrieved from

This excerpt from the​ Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine​ includes information of how a
person could potentially become diagnosed with a mental illness. A psychosocial disorder is
defined as a mental illness that is caused or influenced by life experiences. Oftentimes,
someone's family relationships/upbringing and cultural background influence their likelihood of
developing a mental illness. For example, although depression could be diagnosed in one person
due to genetics and heredity, it could be diagnosed in another person because of a past
distressing experience. In general, treatment for “common” mental illnesses include many
different types of therapy sessions and prescribed medication. However, treatment can vary
depending on severity and type of illness.

Application to Research:
Although this article does not hone in on my potential specific research question, it gives
a great background on mental illness in general. Many other sources I viewed tended to focus on
how you could potentially be diagnosed with a mental illness through your genetics. But, this
excerpt described specifically how they can be developed, which tends to fall under the cultural
part of my question.

Mehraby, N. (2009). Possessed or crazy? Mental illness across cultures. ​Psychotherapy in

​ etrieved from:
Australia, 15(2), 43. R

In this ​online journal page​, the ways that mental illness is perceived across many
cultures/countries is shown through careful analyzation. In recent, westernized culture, the
stigma around mental illness has decreased significantly. However, in other regions of the world,
there is still a great skepticality of whether the diagnoses’ are indeed related to the scientific
brain. It is common for these cultures to believe that mental illness is a fault of the person rather
than a condition, whether it be because of a bad deed they did, or even reflecting off of their
so-called past lives. For example, in many African countries, it is believed that the
supernatural/evil is able to enter the body, leading to their disgust in those that do have a mental

Application to Research:
Although this page of a journal does not directly relate to my research question, it can
help me infer more ways to interpret my idea. If mental illnesses actually diagnose differently in
other cultures, it can lead you to think that one possible reason is the upbringing of that person
and the way they have viewed mental illness throughout their life.
Murphy, D. (2019, January 17). Phone interview.

In this over the phone interview, I was able to ask some questions to Professor Murphy of
University of Sydney in Australia. One crucial piece of information that he seemingly confirmed
for me was that the blame for culture bound syndromes is purely situational and cannot be
defined to one sole thing.

Juckett, G. & Rudolph-Watson, L. (15 January 2010). Recognizing mental illness in

culture-bound syndromes. ​American Family Physician. ​Retrieved from

In this academic article, a doctor/college professor (Dr Juckett) recalls some accounts he
has had with first hand discovery and experience with culture-bound syndromes. He initially
describes a case he has had with a Japanese exchange student he visited with at the West
Virginia University health clinic. This 24 year-old student was complaining that although
numerous attempts, he still suffered with severe body odor, by his own account. He said that it
was so bad that he only left his house to go to class and then return immediately. According to
Dr Juckett, the student looked to be in good health with good personal hygiene and no noted
body odor. Juckett made a conclusion that the problem most likely had to do with a mental
disorder rather than physical means. Prior to any further research, Juckett decided that the
student had depression. But, it was then discovered that it might actually be taijin kyofusho, a
Japanese-specific culture-bound syndrome. The student met all of the symptoms, and he was
raised in Japan.

It was useful to hear of an exact case study, which is a first in my researching of
culture-bound illnesses. Also, this article tied together the information that I had previously
learned about taijin kyofusho, but relating it to a real world experience. Originally, the doctor
diagnosing the student thought that because there was indeed no distinguishable odor coming
from him, that it must be more psychological; Juckett diagnosed it as depression. But, what he
came to find out, was that although depression may have been involved, the symptoms of taijin
kyofusho fit better. This article also goes on to discuss more technical terms about culture-bound
illnesses and how they relate to other, more Westernized mental illnesses.

Ventriglio, A, Ayonrinde, O, & Bhugra, D. (31 August 2015). Relevance of culture-bound

syndromes in the 21st century. ​Wiley Online Library.​ Retrieved from
This online library ​article​ highlights the main components of identifying a culture-bound
illness, along with its origins. A description of culture-bound illnesses was first noted about 60
years ago in China, where a British-trained psychiatrist named Pow Meng Yap explained
illnesses that were seen in generally less-developed countries that according to him, appeared
“exotic, alien, and indigenous”. Since then, the basic definition of culture-bound illnesses has
changed, but Yap’s original observations are still valued today. You can use a “checklist” to
determine if a syndrome is indeed culture-bound. This includes
1. Recognition from the society that the symptoms are a deviation of normal or
healthy conditions
2. A local name derived from the indigenous language
3. Social response influenced by local cultural factors
4. Identified cases limited to a specific geographical region, areas with shared ethnic
history, or identity
5. Experiences that are not recognized globally

This article offered extensive background information about the history and origins of
culture-bound syndromes and what they entail. Although times have changed since 1950s China,
it is important to note that there is data and recordings from many years ago. Also, the list that
included a general identification of these illnesses was helpful in me recognizing what makes this

Chen, S. X., & Mak, W. W. S. (2008). Seeking professional help: etiology beliefs about mental
illness across cultures. ​Journal of Counseling Psychology​, 55(4), 442-450. Retrieved

This ​academic journal ​discusses how mental illnesses are reported differently in many
countries and cultures. Using a survey poll, the authors asked European American, Asian
American, Hong Kong Chinese, and mainland Chinese college students with a mental disorder a
series of survey questions. It was able to be determined that those with a mental disorder in
America (both European and Chinese) are more likely to report their symptoms/conditions to a
medical professional than the contrary. The main purpose of the study was to detect why this was
the case, and to see how exactly a “westernized” culture has an effect. It was also included that
there are two main causes of differences: environmental/hereditary and social–personal. Both can
be impacted by the location of a person's upbringing/living location/general culture.

Application to Research:
In this journal, the reasons for a different action-taking response for treating a mental
illness vary from culture to culture, depending on two main categories. This specific information
helped me know information outside of my direct topic, yet still relevant. A person’s response to
this can tell a lot about them/how they were raised, which can help me draw conclusions for my
own research. I could use this gained information to relate this to the reason there are unique
disorders throughout cultures

Murphy, D. (22 October 2012). Strange or just plain weird? Cultural variation in mental illness.
The Conversation.​ Retrieved from

This ​news article​ highlights the differences between Western cultures and others through
their values. The acronym WEIRD is used by psychologists to describe inhabitants of theses
Western areas, more specifically, Americans. This stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized,
Rich, and Democratic. Across the world, many cultures recognize states of body that do not fit
into the general category of mental illness in Western areas, which is called the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). For example, Harvard anthropologist, Arthur
Kleinman, has been arguing that depression takes many different forms across the world based
on the cultural differences. In China, depression is recognized as a disorder that have symptoms
such as aches and pains rather than the typical Western/American symptoms. The DSM also
follows illnesses categorized as “culture-bound syndromes”, which means that they do not fit
into the diagnostic criteria of a general, recognized disorder.

Application to Research:
A majority of the sources I have read have highlighted the disorders common in
less-Westernized areas of the world, mostly in Eastern Asia. However, this article discusses
some of the specific terminology that has to do with the reasons that this is. I am very glad that I
came across this source because it gave me some insight of how the definition of specific mental
illnesses is mainstreamed by The United States (using the acronym WEIRD). Also, the article
discussed various disorders across the world that were specific to that region, which gives me
more examples to back my hypothesis up.

Table 2: Causes of Mental Illness by Ethnicity. Adapted from “Cultural Beliefs and Mental
Health Treatment Preferences of Ethnically Diverse Older Adult Consumers in Primary
Care,” by Jimenez, D. E., Bartels, S. J., Cardenas, V., Daliwal, S. S., & Alegria, M.,
2012, ​US National Library of Medicine. C ​ opyright Year by “PMC”. Retrieved from

In this ​table​, a visual representation is shown of different ethnicities and how people with
mental illnesses depict the cause of their diagnosis. A PRISM-E study was conducted surveying
2,208 non-Latino Whites, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latino people. In these
results, percentages and numerical quantities are presented, showing generally what each
ethnicity values. For example, 3.5% of African-American participants believed that the cause of
their mental illness was due to supernatural causes (witches, hexes, etc.), while 0% of
Asian-Americans believed that of themselves.

Application to Research:
Because I had stated earlier whilst completing the personality tests and such that I was
more of a numerical thinker, this data helped me understand my potential topic deeper. With
actual numbers and proof of the past theories, it will be easier for me to explain my question with
actual data to back it up. Also, the information on the table is arranged in a manner that is easy to
understand so that if you are trying to interpret the overall concept, this would help.

Vriends, N., Pfaltz, M. C., Novianti, P. & Hadiyono, J. (2013). Taijin kyofusho and social
anxiety and their clinical relevance in indonesia and switzerland. ​Frontiers in
Psychology, vol. 4.​ Retrieved from

In this​ academic journal​, the causes and effects of taijin kyofusho are further explained.
It is defined by the DSM-IV as a culture-bound syndrome and as an interpersonal fear to offend
others. This includes their physical characteristics such as their body odor, blush, or gaze. Along
with this comes an overwhelming feeling of shame. Taijin kyofusho only occurs with
face-to-face conversations, and is usually only seen in encounters with friends of the person
affected. Although originally found and diagnosed in Japan, more recently, additional cases have
been reported in Korea. But, because of the specificness of only being seen in these Southeast
Asian countries, it is considered a unique culture-bound syndrome. While there has been a few
cases that have been documented in a select few countries (Indonesia and Switzerland stated),
there has not been a noticeable enough trend to take that data into account when studying the

I have decided that in my final research paper/presentation, I would like to use taijin
kyofusho as an example of what I am trying to elaborate on. I had considered using a couple of
other culture-bound syndromes, but this one met some criteria that I was looking for; (a) Taijin
kyofusho is one of the 25 mental illnesses outlined in the DSM-5 book, (b) it is simple enough to
explain, and (c) there are many reliable sources that elaborate on the important information
regarding it.
Fritscher, L. (16 June 2018). Taijin kyofusho: Japanese social phobia. ​
Retrieved from

In this ​news article​, the mental illness taijin kyofusho is identified as a culture-bound
syndrome that is recognized in the DSM-5 handbook. This mental illness is specific to Japan,
and is similar to social phobia or social anxiety. A person who has this is concerned with the
good of the group rather than a concern for themselves; they are fearful that their body’s
appearance or functioning may be offensive or unpleasant to others. This includes a ‘false’
assumption of their unpleasant face, body odor, specific actions, or looks. It is common to
compare taijin kyofusho to a social disorder. But, in this situation, the tables have turned, where
the focus is about avoiding potential harm to others rather than yourself. It is important to note
that this mental illness is only diagnosed and detected in Japan.

Having an additional example of a culture-bound illness is always helpful to me so that I
can further my knowledge of them in general. In order to research this topic, it is important to
have all of the information necessary to be confident in your findings, and it is always pleasing to
find such a thing that relates exactly to what you’re researching. Also, I was able to use this
culture-bound syndrome in my marketing presentation PowerPoint; I found that taijin kyofusho
was complex enough to emphasize my point, but still easy to understand for my listeners.

[Foni XMuse]. (2014, October 6).​ 10 mysterious disorders that only hit certain cultures​ [Video
File]. Retrieved from

In this ​video​, some interesting insights about the differing of mental illnesses from
culture to culture are highlighted. All of the disorders are specific to a particular region/country
in the world, which shows how where a person lives can dictate their brains functions. For
example, in the video, a condition called “Tabanka” effects men in Trinidad following
heartbreak. They will most likely experience severe loss of interest in the world, refusing to eat
for long periods of time, stomach pains, and insomnia. This condition is specific to those in

Application to Research:
Because my research question revolves around this particular topic, it was interesting to
learn some specific examples through verbal explanations. Although I may not be able to use this
video for the more in-depth side to my paper, it would be useful if I were to give specific
examples. Also, this video gave me a deeper understanding of just how specific and unusual
these disorders can be.
Bhamdari, S. (2012). Unusual psychiatric syndromes. ​Core Psychiatry​ (Third Edition). (p
345-357). Retrieved from

In this ​chapter of a book​, ‘culture-bound syndromes’ are labeled as something that is
often interpreted in many ways. But, this is appropriate because the term can be applied and used
differently depending on what the discussion is. However, it can be defined as something that
include a heterogenous group of phenomena, some of which are true syndromes, some culturally
based etiologic explanations for psychiatric disorders, and others, folk terms for common
behaviours or emotions, otherwise known as ‘idioms of distress’. Also, it is discussed that while
usually people associate culture bound syndromes with conditions that may only be common in,
say, an Asian setting, this is wrong. A culture-bound syndrome is something that can be specific
to any area, not just things that are solely not considered westernized. For example, one could
say that anorexia nervosa in culture-bound because of it general concentration in western
settings. This chapter also discusses various cultural specific mental illnesses.

Like the past few articles, journals, and others that I have read, this helped me greater
define ‘culture-bound illnesses’. This will be useful to me so that I can discuss it throughout my
research papers and projects because I have found that this term is essential to explaining the
topic. This chapter also discusses various cultural specific mental illnesses, which I know that I
can use as evidence to back up my hypothesis. However, I still need to decide if it is worth my
time to narrow down my subject to either different interpretations/cases of one (generally)
western idea (ex: depression), or to focus on a more culture-bound one (ex: ataque de nervios).

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., and Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world?
Behavioral and Brain Sciences,​ 10(1017). Retrieved from

This ​academic journal ​describes the research and findings of Dr. Joseph Henrich. In
2010, he proposed the term “WEIRD” to the psychological and anthropological communities.
This stands for Wealthy, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic, and is used to describe
the culture of those living in a more Westernized area. This type of person is ultimately odd
when it comes to worldwide culture, traditions, and behavior shown. In studies conducted that
are looking for both quantitative and qualitative data, 96% of surveyed people were WEIRD. To
add to that, 68% of those WEIRD people were American. Based on these statistics, it can be
concluded that a majority of data is not really representative of all people.

A culture-bound syndrome is when a mental illness is specific to an individual culture.
Oftentimes, these mental illnesses are reported as being seen in Asia and Africa. However, when
using the WEIRD acronym to discuss, one can conclude that these culture-bound syndromes are
only labeled in the DSM-5 as that because they are different than typical Western, or WEIRD,
cultures. Also, the professor that I am interviewing spent a portion of his article talking about
how WEIRD people (specifically Americans) have an effect on what goes into the DSM-5.

Simons, R. C. and Hughes, C. C. (6 December 2012). The culture-bound syndromes - Folk

illnesses of psychiatric and anthropological interest. Springer Science & Business Media.
Retrieved from

This​ portion of a textbook​ hits on many points relating to culture-bound syndromes
through a more psychiatric viewpoint. In the anthropological world, it has been debated that if
these conditions are solely culture-based and normal to those areas, are are actually an
“authentic” case of a disease or a disorder. But, it could possibly be narrowed down to two
categories: “emic”, where indigenous cultural situations can be to blame (wrong-doing by the
patient and taboo associations such as witches), and “etic”, where the patients social status and
and legitimate “sick-role”.

One interesting thing in the preface of the book was the question “Does biology,
especially neurophysiology, have a role in explaining the manifestations of any of the
syndromes?”. While this is essentially a portion of my research question, I was unable to find the
answer due to the online excerpt only being a sample of the textbook (and it costing $88). Also,
because of the nature of the text, I was unable to understand and comprehend portions due to my
age and inexperience. However, there were some interesting takes discussed even though
full-access was not enabled. One thing that I found interesting was the establishment between
“emic” and “etic” situations/categories. It seems that these are the separational pieces when it
comes to identifying a reason for a culture-bound syndrome. However, even though this is
categorized, it is impossible to determine which is which in various real-life situations.

Fritscher, L. (2018, June 14). What to know about ataque de nervios.​
Retrieved from:

This​ news article​ discusses the themes and symptoms of the anxiety disorder known as
ataque de nervios​. ​Ataque de nervios​ is when a person experiences uncontrollable screaming or
crying, inability to move due to fear, trembling, fainting, seizures, and more. However, this
mental illness is only found in people of latino origin from the Caribbean, usually also in women
over 45 years old. What makes this disease different than a regular panic attack is that in a panic
attack, a person will experience emotional and physical responses due to their anxiety and fear.
In ​ataque de nervios​, anxiety and fear are considered regular occurrences for the syndrome.

Application to Research:
Because of my increased interest in this disorder, I decided to research it more. In order
to be able to use this illness as a potential “source” in my research paper, I need to be very
knowledgeable on it. Getting more specific background information regarding ataque de nervios
allows me to make more assumptions about my topic and lead myself to new discoveries.
Because the disorder is only specific to a particular area/culture, it relates to my overall research