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Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche Paperback – March 22, 2011
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Journalist Ethan Watters masterfully evokes the heady admixture of moral certainty and profit motive that drives U.S. clinicians and pharmaceutical companies as they evangelically push Western psychiatry around the globe. On the ground in Sri Lanka following the tsunami, for example, hordes of Western counselors hit the ground running, aggressively competing for access to a native population "clearly in denial" about the extent of their trauma. Backing up the foot soldiers are corporations like Pfizer, eager to market the antidepressant Zoloft to a virgin population.
Watters has done his homework. Each of his four examples of DSM-style disorders being introduced around the world is rich in historical and cultural context. Despite their divergences, each successful expansion hinges on the mutual faith of both the colonizers and the colonized that Western approaches represent the pillar of scientific progress.
It is ironic that Americans are so smugly assured of the superiority of our cultural beliefs and practices, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Do we really want others to emulate a country with skyrocketing levels of emotional distress, where jails and prisons are the primary sites of mental health care? Does our simplistic cultural metaphor of mental illness as a "chemical imbalance, " with human minds reduced to "a batter of chemicals we carry around in the mixing bowls of our skulls," represent true enlightenment?Read more ›
This is a well researched , well written expose of the repercussions and folly of well intentioned and not so well intentioned (big pharma) in changing the world view of the rest of the world out of ignorance and for profit.
This is an eye opening call to attention, must read for anyone who is interested in meme theory, psychologists, psychiatrists and anyone interested in the wealth offered by other cultures. This is psychiatry and medicine gone very wrong.
Watters begins with anorexia in Hong Kong. There is a western educated psychiatrist who notices that anorexia in Hong Kong doesn't match the Western paradigm. He presents the idea that there may be no value in categorizing a disease by its manifestations when there are different origins. He quotes another author about glamorizing a disease as it causes imitation which is what starts to happen. The Hong Kong psychiatrist Lee notes" the only hope lies in deep understanding of each patient's subjective experience". Unfortunately, he feels that the rest of the world is being steamrolled by DSM.
Next example was the well-meaning do-gooders who brought PTSD to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans had coped well with adversity in the past. They understood things in terms of karma. They had their own ways of dealing with any aftermath. The Westerners came over with dubious therapies stomping on cultural sensitivities and most probably left Sri Lanka worse than it would have been. This chapter is particularly interesting in exploring the culture and beliefs of Sri Lankans.
Next is schizophrenia in Zanzibar and last and most frightening is depression in Japan which was literally a creation of big pharma.
The lessons of this book are profound not only in relation of the described events, but also how we can be manipulated by clever PR. Read it and shiver.
Another of the author's premises is that the Western medicine for mental illness doesn't work well in other cultures. That may well be true, but the author doesn't show examples of where it has worked or given us any kind of qualified evidence-based, broad-based comparative study; he has only selected anecdotes that support his thesis. I think any attempt to use Western medicine of any kind in a community that is not receptive to it, or for which the doctors ignore or dismiss cultural healing traditions, has potential for unforeseen and even disastrous consequences. But if done with cultural sensitivity and offering options rather than dictating treatment, it could be very helpful to people who are suffering greatly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, fascinating to see how Western culture influences the definition of mental illness around the world.Published 16 days ago by Bonnie Kell
Amazon Reviews Daisy Mae
Crazy Like Us: The Globalisation of the American Psyche by Ethan Watters
Five stars. Read more
Very interesting and quick read. Although written more journalistically rather than scholarly. But the autherPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Ethan Watters, an American journalist explores in his book Crazy Like Us, the globalization of American based mental illnesses such as anorexia, schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Samantha Orr
An interesting read on how the US exports ideas and diagnosis of mental health. Recommended read especially if you are in the mental health field.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
A deep look at the way American and European definitions of mental illness and its treatment have impacted other cultures and the crass financial motivation behind some of the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jo Ellen Brainin Rodriguez