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Transcultural psychiatry 

Transcultural psychiatry
Transcultural psychiatry

Julian Leff

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date: 05 July 2022

With the mass movements of populations that have characterized the second half of the twentieth century, there can be few psychiatrists who do not encounter members of an ethnic minority group in their practice. The principles of transcultural psychiatry are obviously of relevance to this type of psychiatrist–patient interaction, but they are also of central importance even when the psychiatrist and patient share the same ethnic background. This is because within a particular ethnic group there are invariably many subcultures, for example based on religious affiliation, which encompass a diversity of beliefs. It is essential that the psychiatrist be aware of the common belief systems likely to be encountered, not simply to enhance rapport with patients and relatives, but in order to avoid serious mistakes in ascribing pathology to experiences that are accepted as normal by the subculture. This chapter looks at the contribution of psychiatric epidemiology (cultural influences on both the psychoses and the neuroses), contributions of anthropology, and finally the concept of depression.

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