The Effect of Western Psychiatric Models of Mental Illness on a Non – Western Culture

CJ Gletus Matthews CN Jacobs, Kogilah Narayanasamy, Abbas Hardani


The treatment of mental illness historically has been always based on western nation’s mode of thinking. That’s could be understandably well because western mode of medical treatment has always dominated the world despite surge in alternative medicine in recent times. Medicine and treatment in mental illness are dealt by personnel who are trained in western medicine, and therefore, their orientations are western based. These trained personnel faces challenges when they are diagnosing mental illness across different cultures that are found not only around the globe but also within the western domain given the migration pattern in the last half a century or so. Through the analysis of the various literature on this area and the practices therein, the articles examines the social process of the restrictive medical model that dominates western thinking of mental illness creates a vacuum in dealing with patients from cross culture largely due to their own views of what constitutes mental illness. A patient’s deviant behaviour may be the result of an upbringing which are regarded as unusual to western norms of living. Specialist in the field of psychiatry being western in their outlook and mostly educated in that aspect will apply therapies that are alien to non-western patients who may believe that they are possessed by spirits which explains their deviant behaviour. The authors argue that the conflict faced by psychiatrist and related professionals can be resolved by a better understanding and adopting a universal approach in treating mental patients of different culture. The question is whether they are willing to confront ethical issues that can be intrinsically challenging especially when they are controversial.

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