Cultural Cognition and Psychopathology

Cultural Cognition and Psychopathology

Cultural Cognition and Psychopathology

Cultural Cognition and Psychopathology

Synopsis

An interdisciplinary volume which draws together the concepts of culture and cognition in the wider context of psychopathology. It provides new perspectives on the etiology, treatment, and prevention of psychopathology by challenging current individualistic models and assumptions, while offering new theoretical formulations that take account of the cultural foundation of the cognition process.

Excerpt

John F. Schumaker

This book is an attempt to bring together the concepts of culture and cognition within the wider context of psychopathology. While it may seem obvious to some people that culture and cognition are important factors in the etiology of many forms of psychopathology, it is quite surprising how little has been done in terms of integrating these three areas into useful theoretical and treatment models. An analysis of the history of psychology explains in part why the field of psychology has been very slow to recognize and acknowledge the role of culture in normal as well as abnormal behavior.

The early history of psychology is full of mesmerizing psychoanalytic case studies that read like detective stories, and seem to reveal that individual psychodynamics, as they combine with primitive instinct, can provide a sufficient explanation for psychopathological patterns. As it would turn out, many of these case histories were contrived and embellished, giving a false impression of the power of intrapsychic and local situational factors. Freud himself viewed society in large part as a moral force that competed with, and demanded repression of, the instinctual drives of the individual. An overemphasis on instinctual motivation prevented him from realizing that the individual is shaped in many ways by culture, and that culture is far more than an obstacle with which the personal psyche must contend. Nonetheless, psychoanalytic models left a lasting impression that invited psychologists to limit their theoretical and treatment formulations to that of the individual. Even the so-called neo-Freudians, who began to speak of the "social being," did not really come to terms with the concept of culture.

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