February 1976

Society, Culture, and Mental Disorder

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(2):147-156. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770020003001

• The central objective in this article is to effect a critical examination of these theories and hypotheses that purport to explain the process by which selected sociocultural factors make their ingression into the personality and emerge as mental symptoms and/or mental disorders.

The difficulties of isolating these specific factors stem from two unresolved methodological concerns. One is the uncertainty as to whether functional mental illness can be differentiated into several qualitatively distinct syndromes or whether it forms a unity of a more generic character. The other is the failure to formulate a valid social-psychological theory that can demonstrate that selected sociocultural factors contribute to the molding of a mental illness observed in the phenotype.

Finally, 15 propositions summarize the factual knowledge that emerges from the several social-psychological, epidemiological, and cultural studies examined.