CULTURE AND MENTAL ILLNESS: A Social Labeling Perspective

Author: Waxler, N.E.

Description: Observations made by the author in Ceylon and by other practitioners in Africa suggest that the serious psychoses seen in these peasant systems are of short duration with an excellent prognosis. Data from a study that followed treated schizophrenics in Mauritius are reviewed which show that clinical symptoms and social performance after 12 yrs were significantly better than a comparable group of patients in Great Britain even though the Mauritian treatment was more limited. Several theories which have been developed to explain cross-cultural variations in types, rates, and outcomes of mental illness are examined. An alternate theory is proposed which argues that societies do not cause different rates of mental disorder or tolerate varying degrees of deviance; instead they respond differently to illness once it occurs. Differences in societal response, in turn, account for differences in rates and outcome. The social labeling theory of deviance is used to present concepts and hypotheses to explain how different societies mold the mentally ill person to match societal expectations. The role of belief systems of the society in this process is emphasized. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Subject Headings: Culture; Mental illness; Social Labeling Perspective

Publication year: 1974

Journal or book title: The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Volume: 159

Issue: 6

Pages: 379-395

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 2330