Psychiatry is arguably the medical specialty most sensitive to cultural influences. An individual’s experience, expression, assessment, and regulation of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are shaped by culture. Since mental health issues are particularly vulnerable to stigmatization, the expression of such issues and their evaluation by others can vary significantly. Culture creates a framework for the assessment of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral expressions and for the thresholds of disease and disorder. While the field of psychiatry is committed to emphasizing the uniformity of psychiatric disorders across groups, partly to provide stable phenotypes and identify successful treatment, the limitations of this position have been articulated by anthropology, cultural psychiatry, and recently by neuroscience, which has given rise to the search for more biologically based classification systems. However, there is still little research about how culture affects the evaluation of symptoms and signs that are relevant for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For example, would individuals in Germany and Canada respond to antidepressants the same way?
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Guinart D, Kane JM, Correll CU. Is Transcultural Psychiatry Possible? JAMA. 2019;322(22):2167–2168. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.17331
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: