Culture and Panic Disorder

By Devon E. Hinton; Byron J. Good | Go to book overview

Preface

SOME THIRTY YEARS AGO, Arthur Kleinman, along with his colleagues Byron and Mary-Jo Good, began a program of research built around the study of major psychiatric disorders from a meaning-centered, cross-cultural perspective. Their approach has been, in essence, to treat the nosology of the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a cultural artifact— the culture-specific product of particular medical specialists in Western postindustrial society. Applying this heuristic, they have selected important DSM psychiatric categories for comparison with diagnostically and behaviorally similar conditions found in different parts of the globe. Their goal in doing this has not been to see if the DSM categories map onto each local manifestation, but to use the comparisons to clarify the underlying illness process. By examining each local manifestation in its epidemiological, social, and cultural (that is, meaning) context in relation to the DSM category, universal features of the condition become clarified, as do specific social and cultural features that contribute to producing the differences. In short, this method leads to a more sophisticated, less ethnocentric understanding of the general illness type. Applying this method, Kleinman and the Goods, and more recently their students, have provided anthropologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other interested scholars with enlightening and fruitful analyses of such major psychiatric conditions as depression (Kleinman and Good 1985), anxiety (Good and Kleinman 1985), pain (Good et al. 1994), schizophrenia (Jenkins and Barrett 2004), dementia (Leibing and Cohen 2006), and eating disorders (Becker 2007).

The present book, devoted to a cross-cultural, meaning-centered study of

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