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Culture And Mental Illness Essay

2358 words - 10 pages

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 opulent western economies and their politics. Western culture, due to its presumed superiority, replaces the native culture of a country. Observed through education, fashion, diet, art, and medical treatment it becomes apparent that imitating the west has become the way an individual can be a more competitive member of the society. Simultaneously, when people are afflicted with diseases, of which its symptomatology intertwines with the native culture, they still seek western methods of treatment. This goes back to the colonial era when western nations depicted native cultures in a negative, backward light. Consequently, colonized populations see their own native culture as backward when compared to its western counterpart hence western methods are always sought when available. Ethan Watters, in Crazy Like Us, emphasizes how the “globalization of the American psyche” was rather a dangerous export of the west that subdued cultures around the world. In essence, the “homogenization” of treatment methods, through colonization and globalization, has led psychiatrists to adopt western methods of treatment, which causes them to overlook the significance of local culture in the symptomatology of mental health issues.
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