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2.6: Culture and Mental Illness

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    Although this book focuses on normal personality development, one cannot escape the fact that most of the famous personality theorists were clinicians who were trying to understand how their patients/clients had developed psychological disorders. So, our understanding of personality development grew hand-in-hand with our understanding of psychological disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders began addressing the importance of culture in the 4th edition, and more recently it has taken a dramatic step forward with the publication of the DSM's 5th edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, 2013).

    The DSM-V includes a section on Emerging Measures and Models, one chapter of which is called Cultural Formulation. Although the DSM-IV began to present an outline for cultural formulation, the DSM-V includes two valuable sets of questions that have been field-tested to help clinicians assess the cultural identity of a patient/client and how that cultural identity may affect the diagnosis and treatment of any potential psychological disorder. The first set of questions is the basis for the Cultural Formulation Interview, and the second set comprise the Cultural Formulation Interview - Informant Version (which is given to someone who is knowledgeable about the life circumstances and potential clinical problems of the patient/client).

    In our increasingly global and multicultural world it is more and more likely that therapists will encounter individuals from different cultural backgrounds than their own. Thus, in order for the therapist to fully understand the individual and the context of their psychological distress, the therapist must be aware of and attentive to possibly significant cultural differences. Failure to do so might result in what Iijima Hall (1997) has described as cultural malpractice!

    This page titled 2.6: Culture and Mental Illness is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Mark D. Kelland (OpenStax CNX) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.