Book Reviews -- Asian Americans: Personality Patterns, Identity, and Mental Health by Laura Uba

Article excerpt

It is often asked: Is it possible to characterize a whole people? Yes, we may say, there is something called "national character." Out of common or collective experiences, people tend to develop common attitudes or behavior patterns. At the same time, however, people are individuals and there are permutations.

Since the publication in 1982 of the seminal work The Mental Health of Asian Americans by Stanley Sue and James Morishima, there has been extensive research and a significant shift in who comprises this population. In this textbook-style book, Laura Uba, a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department at California State University, brings the literature up to date.

The first section of the book presents a demographic and historical profile of Asian American populations, and it discusses Asian American cultural values and the racism directed against them. The second section of the book examines sources of psychological stress due to minority status, cultural conflicts, and immigration and refugee experience. The third section reviews empirical studies on the rates of mental disorders among Asian Americans, as well as predictors and common manifestations of mental health disorders.

The term "Asian American" has been in common use since the late 1960s, when it arose in the context of the civil rights movement. The term applies to members of over 25 groups that have been classified as a single group because of their common ethnic origins in Asia and the Pacific Islands, similar physical appearance, and similar cultural values. In fact, however, Asian Americans are culturally and experientially quite diverse: they differ in degrees of acculturation, migration experience, occupational skills, cultural values and beliefs, religion, primary language, personality syndrome, income, education, average age, ethnic identity, and so forth. …