Crazy Like Us
Crazy Like Us “Crazy Like Us” is a enlightening book written by San Francisco journalist, Ethan Watters, in which he contends that the exportation of typical American psychological disorders included in the DSM to other countries is an ineffective approach at attempting to aid mental health patients in those countries. Watters educates readers about the dangers of applying American mental disorders to individuals in other countries due to differences in diets, culture, and social norms. He documents a series of case studies in which victims of mental health disorders in various countries are affected by culture and societal norms. He argues that classifying a mental illness under a generic American disorder is dangerous and downright
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One crucial component that Watters mentions is the assumption that PTSD can be applied universally, “The symptoms that make up PTSD, which include intrusive thoughts and dreams, memory avoidance, and uncontrollable anxiety and arousal” seemed downright reasonable and universal to American mental health practitioners. However, upon their arrival, counselors were astonished by the way in which locals moved on with their lives so quickly after the tsunami. What American counselors failed to consider is the Sri Lankans’ local meaning of trauma, their cultural distinct reactions to trauma, and their deep affiliations with religion during difficult times. Due to these meaningful cultural differences, American counseling intervention attempts were moot and superfluous.
The third case study depicts a situation of a father and daughter with schizophrenia in a village in Zanzibar and how the family deals with their illness. According to Watters’ account, the family was deeply religious and believed that this was a burden they could overcome with their faith and the help of close kinship. The mentally ill members were not ostracized or overmedicated, as they usually are in the U.S. McGruder, the medical anthropologist who Watters interviewed and who was closely working with the family, examined closely a few cases of schizophrenia in Zanzibar and declares that the most important lesson to learn from this is that we should,