I am sure you have realized that it can be difficult to get a professional consensus on the definition of a disorder and whether it exists outside of a cultural context. Universal disorder refers to the incidence of a particular set of symptoms as occurring across various cultures and circumstances and includes mental illnesses. Universal disorders focus on the genetic and biological factors contributing to the condition, in addition to cultural and contextual factors.
While the debate about culturally specific versus universal conditions continues in regard to clinical diagnosis, most experts agree that viewing illness through the lens of culture is imperative when addressing symptoms, societal stigma, and treatment options. In this chapter, we will explore the symptoms and diagnostic criteria of four mental health categories seen across the globe: