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Handling cultural differences between patient and clinician 

Handling cultural differences between patient and clinician
Handling cultural differences between patient and clinician

Joseph Westermeyer

, and Jerome Kroll

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date: 18 May 2021

This chapter proposes to aid clinicians in handling cultural differences encountered by patients and clinicians. Our overarching emphasis involves ‘migratory psychiatry’—a context in which patients may have migrated to an unfamiliar culture. We also include contexts in which clinicians have migrated to the patient’s culture, as this situation can produce similar problems that the clinician must manage. From innumerable possible topics, we have selected seven areas owing to their frequency and/or clinical importance: negotiated psychiatric encounters, dreams, and nightmares, social units as patient/pathogen/therapeutic resource, theories of psychiatric disorder, organic causes, managing differences, and culture-related attitudes and beliefs. Although this list does not cover all potential challenges, it does provide the reader with a format for handling other dilemmas arising between patient and clinician in psychiatric settings. The ‘Methods’ section specifies the means by which the reviewers and authors have approached such matters in their careers. The latter include being thoughtful in learning from their own experiences, benefitting vicariously from the experiences of teachers and colleagues, and reading journals and books on related topics.

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