Cross-cultural Psychiatry

  • G. M. Carstairs

Abstract

Instances of socially unacceptable behaviour occur in every society, and every society has developed explanations to account for them, and procedures for dealing with such deviant persons. The commonest explanation—inspired no doubt by the subject’s change of personality and his often incomprehensible speech—is that of spirit possession; indeed Ackerknecht (1968, p. 1) has suggested that this mode of explaining mental derangement became, by extension, the explanation for all other forms of illness also. Rosen (1968) has drawn attention to recognisable descriptions of psychotic behaviour in ancient Hebrew literature as long ago as 1020 B.C. He also refers to the distinction made in early Greek medicine between madness due to natural causes (such as abuse of alcohol) and enthusiasmos or divine madness, which was seen as a mark of election, so that its victims were treated with some awe, as people who had enjoyed direct communication with supernatural powers—a concept which we saw temporarily revived by R. D. Laing, in some of his apocalyptic utterances, some eight years ago.

Keywords

Depression Europe Ghost Malaysia Rosen 

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Copyright information

© Raghu N. Gaind and Barbara L. Hudson 1979

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  • G. M. Carstairs

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