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January 23, 1987

Culture and Depression: Studies in the Anthropology and Cross-cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Diego La Jolla

University of California, San Diego La Jolla

JAMA. 1987;257(4):550-551. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390040166042

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Problems in cross-cultural assessment confront all medical specialties, but are especially troublesome to psychiatry. How does one take a history and make a diagnosis if the patient is from a radically different culture? A flip answer might be, "Obtain an interpreter." However, even when an interpreter has correctly translated each individual sentence of an interview, one still does not understand the meaning of the complaint in a different cultural context. Many of us wish for some sort of cross-cultural dictionary that would provide a succinct summary of different groups' unique cultural values and belief structures about illness. Alternatively, some wish for more of an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and controversies in anthropology and psychiatry that make a cross-cultural discourse both imperative and difficult. This book follows the latter course.

The editors have covered a broad spectrum of topics in psychiatry and anthropology. The chapters vary widely in approach and