Advertisement

Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 123–149 | Cite as

The interaction of mental illness, criminal behavior and culture: Native Alaskan mentally ill criminal offenders

  • Michael R. Phillips
  • Thomas S. Inui
Article

Abstract

The rapid changes experienced by non-Western ethnic groups as they become “acculturated” to Western life-styles are frequently associated with disintegration of the traditional cultures and psychosocial dysfunction of the groups' members. How culture changes lead to maladaptation remains a mystery. As a first step in clarifying this relationship, this paper proposes a method for analyzing the interaction of cultural change and psychosocial maladjustment. It uses Native Alaskans as a paradigmatic example of a group that is undergoing rapid changes and describes in detail a maladjusted subgroup of Native Alaskans-mentally ill criminal offenders. It compares 567 Native Alaskan criminal offenders who were referred to mental health professionals (from 1977 thru 1981) to 939 White Alaskan offenders.

We find that alcohol abuse, the dominant social problem for Native Alaskans, is not clearly associated with the degree of sociocultural change. Residence in larger communities and higher educational achievement are associated with greater psychosocial maladjustment. The region of residence (i.e., Native Corporation) has a stronger influence on the rate and type of maladjustment than the ethnic group (i.e., Eskimo, Indian, or Aleut) or the “ethnic density” of the community of residence (i.e., the proportion of Native Alaskans in the population). We emphasize the importance of using such quantitative findings to focus the questions that should be addressed by ethnographic research.

Keywords

Ethnic Group Mental Illness Social Problem Alcohol Abuse Rapid Change 
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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services 1976a-1979a Alaska Vital Statistics. Juneau, AK: Statistical Support Unit, Office of Information Systems.Google Scholar
  2. 1977b-1978b Native Regional Corporation Data Book, Vols. 3, 4. Juneau, AK: Statistical Support Unit, Office of Information Systems.Google Scholar
  3. 1978c Mental Health Services: An In-depth Look at Fiscal Year `77. Juneau, AK: Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.Google Scholar
  4. 1979b-1980a Analysis of Patient and Program Characteristics: (FY78, FY79). Juneau, AK: Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.Google Scholar
  5. 1980b n.d. Mental Health Annual Report (FY1980, FY1981). Juneau, AK: Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.Google Scholar
  6. 1980c Alcoholism Program Information. Juneau, AK: Office of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  7. 1982 The Alaska State Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Plan 1981–1983. Juneau, AK: Office of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  8. Alaska, Department of Labor 1982 Alaska Native Report. Juneau, AK: Department of Labor.Google Scholar
  9. Alaska, Department of Law 1978–1982 Crime in Alaska (1977–1981). Juneau, AK: Criminal Justice Planning Agency.Google Scholar
  10. Alaska Judicial Council 1982 Alaska Felony Sentences 1980. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Judicial Council.Google Scholar
  11. American Psychiatric Association 1980 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ed 3. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  12. Barger, W. K. 1977 Culture Change and Psychosocial Adjustment. American Ethnologist 4: 471–495.Google Scholar
  13. Bateson, G. 1972 [1935] Culture Contact and Schismogenesis. In Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Bateson, G. pp. 61–72. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  14. Brod, T. M. 1975 Alcoholism as a Mental Health Problem of Native Americans. Archives of General Psychiatry 32: 1385–1391.Google Scholar
  15. Coid, J. 1982 Alcoholism and Violence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 9: 1–13.Google Scholar
  16. Dohrenwend, B. P. and Dohrenwend, B. S. 1974 Social and Cultural influences on Psychopathology. Annual Review of Psychology 25: 417–452.Google Scholar
  17. Dohrenwend, B. P. and Smith, R. J. 1962 Toward a Theory of Acculturation. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 18: 30–39.Google Scholar
  18. Durkheim, E. 1951 Suicide. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hippler, A. E. 1974 The North Alaskan Eskimo: A Culture and Personality Perspective. American Ethnologist 1: 449–469.Google Scholar
  20. Indian Health Service 1981 1980 Census Data for Alaskan Communities. Alaskan Native Health Service, Program Formulation Branch, Health Statistics Section. Anchorage, AK.Google Scholar
  21. Klausner, S. Z. and Foulks, E. 1982 Eskimo Capitalists: Oil, Politics and Alcohol. Totowa, N. J.: Allanheld, Osum and Company.Google Scholar
  22. Kraus, R. and Buffler, P. 1979 Sociocultural Stress and the American Native in Alaska: An Analysis of Changing Patterns of Psychiatric Illness and Alcohol Abuse among Alaska Natives. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 3: 111–151.Google Scholar
  23. Leighton, A. H. and Hugh, J. H. 1961 Culture as Causative of Mental Disorders. In Causes of Mental Disorders: A Review of Epidemiological Knowledge, 1959, New York: Milbank Memorial Fund.Google Scholar
  24. Lenke, L. 1982 Alcohol and Crimes of Violence: A Causal Analysis. Contemporary Drug Problems 11(3): 355–365.Google Scholar
  25. Murphy, H. B. M. 1961 Social Change and Mental Health. In Causes of Mental Disorders: A Review of Epidemiological Knowledge, 1959, New York: Milbank Memorial Fund.Google Scholar
  26. Olmendo, E. L. 1980 Quantitative Methods of Acculturation: An Overview. In Acculturation: Theory, Models and Some New Findings. Padilla, A. M. ed. pp. 27–45. American Association for the Advancement of Science Selected Symposium 39. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  27. Phillips, M. R., Wolf, A. and Coons, D. 1984 Forensic Psychiatry in Alaska (1977–1981). Report to the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities of the State of Alaska. (Grant No. 0622300).Google Scholar
  28. Public Health Service 1976–1982 Health Statistics of the Alaska Native: Leading Problems (FY1976–82). Anchorage, AK: Alaska Area Native Health Service, Program Formulation Branch.Google Scholar
  29. Seltzer, A. 1980 Acculturation and Mental Disorder in Inuit. Canadian Journal Psychiatry 25: 173–181.Google Scholar
  30. Social Science Research Council Summer Seminar on Acculturation 1954 Acculturation: An Exploratory Formulation. American Anthropologist 56: 973–1002.Google Scholar
  31. Thompson, J. W, Goldman H. H. 1983 The NIMH Translation from DSM-II/ICDA-8 to DSM-III/ICD-9-CM using grouped codes. National Institute of Mental Health, Division of Biometry and Epidemiology, Survey and Reports Branch. (Mental Health Statistical Note no. 163).Google Scholar
  32. Travis, R. 1983 Suciide in Northwest Alaska. White Cloud Journal 3(1): 23–30.Google Scholar
  33. United States Bureau of the Census 1930, 1939, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980 United States Census of Population. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  34. World Health Organization 1978 ICD-9 Mental Disorders: Glossary and Guide to their classification in accordance with the Ninth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
  35. Yinger, J. M., and Simpson, G. E. 1978 The Integration of Americans of Indian Descent. Annual of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 436: 137–151.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Phillips
    • 1
  • Thomas S. Inui
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Center of Psychological MedicineHunan Medical CollegeChangsha, HunanPeople's Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations