Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 121–200 | Cite as

The interrelationship of tropical disease and mental disorder: conceptual framework and literature review (part I — malaria)

  • Mitchell G. Weiss


Substantial interactions between tropical diseases and psychiatric illness have long been recognized, but the impact of biological factors in the field of cross-cultural psychiatry has been less well studied than psychosocial factors. In reviewing the literature at the intersection of tropical medicine and psychiatry in order to summarize the existing data base in this field, a generalized interactive model informed by the theoretical contributions of George Engel, the WHO Scientific Working Group on Social and Economic Research, Arthur Kleinman, P. M. Yap, Edward Sapir and others has been developed to serve as a conceptual framework for this analysis of the literature and to guide further research. The clinical literature of tropical medicine and psychiatry which recognizes the significance of concurrent tropical disease and mental disorders is reviewed along with the more specific literature on malaria and concomitant psychiatric illness. Many authors have focused on the role of organic mental disorders, especially in connection with cerebral malaria, but several have also addressed psychosocial parameters through which the interrelationship between malaria and a full range of mental disorders is also mediated. The effects of malaria may serve as biological, psychological or social stressors operating in a cultural context which precipitate or shape features of psychiatric symptomatology. Psychiatric illness may likewise precipitate an episode of malaria with typical symptoms in a patient with a previously subclinical infection. Implications of the literature and this generalized interactive model are considered as they apply to clinical practice, public health and the application of social science theory in medicine.[/p]


Mental Disorder Malaria Conceptual Framework Psychiatric Illness Cerebral Malaria 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitchell G. Weiss
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard Medical School Department of PsychiatryThe Cambridge HospitalCambridge

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