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Book Review: Crazy Like Us

The following book review was submitted by Eric Fergerson.

Crazy Like Us
(The Globalization of the American Psyche) is insightful and thought-provoking. It looks at the influence of Western medicine on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness around the world. The author Ethan Watters examines this process by chronicling the rise of Anorexia in Hong Kong, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Sri Lanka, Schizophrenia in Zanzibar and Depression in Japan.

Mr. Watters travels the globe to meet with researchers involved in studying these illnesses in their indigenous cultures. He looks at the socio-cultural, historical, etiological and epidemiology of these illnesses. He uses first person accounts along with personal and doctor interviews to develop his thesis. He does not conclude that Western medicine is simply either inferior or superior to indigenous belief systems in regards to ways of healing and recovery. In fact, he states "I have tried to avoid making the cliched argument that other, more traditional cultures necessarily have it right when it comes to treating mental illness. All cultures struggle with these intractable diseases with varying degrees of compassion and cruelty, equanimity and fear. My point is not that they necessarily have it right - only that they have it different."

On a personal level I truly enjoyed this book. As a student of psychology viewing Mr. Watter's theory from multiple perspectives I was thoroughly engaged and provoked. This book is a must read for anyone interested in a cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of the diversity of ideas surrounding the treatment and diagnosis of mental illness around the world.

Comments

Valash said…
Hello Eric,

Thank you for this review. Now, I am interested in reading this book. I am so consumed by the way American society views mental health because I am in America, however, it would be nice to learn more about stigma and mental illness on a global scale. And it is interesting to study cultural differences in the way people recovery from mental health concerns.

Thank you!

Ashley Smith
Just thought I'd let you know, but I'm giving your blog an award. Check back to my post for 10/22/10 for exact details. And Congrats!

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