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TV Programme on Mental Health

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dreambuggieII

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http://fora.tv/2010/02/04/Ethan_Watters_The_Globalization_of_the_American_Psyche#chapter_17:)

Summary

American culture is homogenizing the way the world goes mad. Our exportation of everything from movies to junk food is a well-documented phenomenon. But neither our golden arches nor our bomb craters represent our most troubling impact on the world: the bulldozing of the human mind itself.

In Crazy Like Us, leading trend-spotter and science writer Ethan Watters shows that we are not only changing the way the world treats and understands mental illness, we are actually changing the symptoms and prevalence of the diseases themselves.

Watters travels the world to illustrate the ways in which Western influences have changed mental illness.

In Hong Kong, he meets teenagers who have learned from American culture that anorexia is the modern way to express distress, and who began refusing food after a wave of Western celebrities and researchers began raising awareness. In Zanzibar, he witnesses a much milder and more bearable form of schizophrenia than what we have in the States.

In Sri Lanka, he sees western crisis counselors bungle the treatment of tsunami victims and actually cause the community more distress.

And in Japan, he tells the story of the drug companies selling depression itself to create a market for a new drug.
 
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diddypinks

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very interesting! id much rather be a shamen than a schizophrenic, what is it i wonder that makes schizophrenics better off in 3rd world countries? i wish i knew!:D
 
oneday

oneday

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Hi dreambuggie

(y) Thanks for posting this. Very interesting stuff. Will watch the whole programme another time and say more, but it's late and I'm off to bed now. Thanks again.
 
oneday

oneday

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Why better recovery rates in developing countries?

what is it i wonder that makes schizophrenics better off in 3rd world countries? i wish i knew!:D
Hi diddypinks. It's a good question.

Hope the following might be useful. It's based on something I wrote a while back for our local user/survivor magazine about this World Health Organisation (WHO) cross-cultural schizophrenia research. It was based on an article I'd read by retired psychiatrist Suman Fernando (I've posted it before on the forum - on a thread in 'You two pence worth", about anti-psychotics):

There have been many explanations put forward as to why there were better outcomes in ‘developing’ countries when compared to the West, among these are…

- In economies not based on wage labour, people treated as ‘mad’ or ‘mentally ill’ do not find themselves excluded from society in the same way they do in the West; a person can better maintain a valued social role, to continue to make a contribution to the community that matches his/her ability at any given time.

- Traditional African and Asian communities are generally more accepting of unusual behaviours and experiences when compared to the labelling and stigmatisation found in the West. Hearing voices, seeing visions, etc are less like to be labelled as illness or madness, and in some cultures spiritual interpretations may afford the person high status, as someone with special insights and knowledge.

- ‘Treatment’ approaches in traditional societies are generally dynamic and optimistic, with clear expectation of successful recovery. Communal healing processes are more likely to involve extended families and treat the problem as one for the whole community, not just the individual. This is in contrast to the essential pessimism at the heart of psychiatry in the West, with its beliefs about ‘incurable bio-chemical illness’ and the problems being seen as residing in the individual.

- The emotional isolation found in Western nuclear-family life has also been cited as integral to ‘schizophrenic’ alienation and poor recovery.

- Also, of course the findings raise the question as to whether Western psychiatric treatment itself is doing people more harm than good; might the current practice of long-term use of neuroleptic/’antipsychotic’ drugs, for instance, be responsible for a good proportion of the higher percentage of people who become "chronically ill" in developed countries?

About six or seven years or so ago, an American anthropologist called Murphy Halliburton carried out some research in Kerala, southern India, related to the WHO schizophrenia studies. His research focused on people with experience of different therapeutic approaches to severe breakdown, namely, Ayurvedic medicine (a traditional Indian system), Western-style psychiatry (allopathic drug treatments, etc), and religious healing (at centres based at a Hindu temple, Muslim mosque or Christian church). Each of the systems offered ‘inpatient’ or residential options – there are Ayurvedic hospitals in India, as well as religious healing centres where people (often with their families) can stay.

Many people had tried one way and then another. Interestingly, there were recipients of each of the systems who showed improvement on follow up, but several people had radically different experiences with each of the three approaches. Each of the systems was found by some people to be helpful and by others to be ineffective.

- A choice of different forms of therapy As Halliburton said, these findings suggest that a greater availability of distinct forms of therapeutic approach makes it more likely that each of us will find an approach that we respond to well, that works for us.

This has huge implications for Western psychiatry, and throws new light on the WHO studies. As he argues, the findings suggest that people in 'developing' countries do so much better because these are places with a greater availability of diverse forms of therapy when compared to the 'developed' West, where a one-dimensional, biomedical approach dominates.
 
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maudikie

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maudikie.

I should ignore all this. Social conditions are different in different countries, and although they are not the cause of schizophrenia the social background can be either helpful or not. So do the best in the country you live in.
 
oneday

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I should ignore all this. Social conditions are different in different countries, and although they are not the cause of schizophrenia the social background can be either helpful or not. So do the best in the country you live in.
Hi maudikie, It's a good point you make - that we need to do the best we can in the country we're in. To me the point is - what can we learn from other cultures? That's got to be a question worth asking - not assuming that in the West we've got all the answers, cos we clearly haven't. Also, I live and work in areas with lots of people from different cultural backgrounds, and many people close to me are from, or their parents are from, these different cultures.

For instance, from the stuff I posted above about the cross-cultural schizophrenia studies, as a culture we might do well to ask things like:

- How might we not exclude people from meaningful social roles; not marginalise people but involve people, value people?

- How might we listen to and value their experience more rather than stigmatise people who experience 'psychosis', hearing voices etc.

- Can we learn from the spiritual traditions of other cultures?

- How might our culture develop ‘treatment’ approaches that are dynamic and optimistic, with an expectation of successful recovery?

- What can we learn from thinking about the 'problem' as being one for the whole community, not just the individual, about what goes on between people, more?

- Would it help to involve people's families and immediate community more, and be mindful of the isolation people can experience in the nuclear-family life of some Western cultures?

- How much are our drug treatments for psychosis actually helping? Might there not be people who are better off without being given these drugs as a first-line treatment?

- Shouldn't we be giving more choices to people about 'treatment', offering different kinds of therapy?

- What are the factors that help in traditional medicine systems such as those in India, and in spiritual approaches?

Anyway, thanks for listening. Those are all reasons why it's important to me, and why I wouldn't want to ignore this stuff.

Finally, as far as I understand it, the jury is still out about what causes what gets called 'schizophrenia', and many people believe social/environmental factors to figure very strongly.
 
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Apotheosis

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- In economies not based on wage labour, people treated as ‘mad’ or ‘mentally ill’ do not find themselves excluded from society in the same way they do in the West

- Traditional African and Asian communities are generally more accepting of unusual behaviours and experiences when compared to the labelling and stigmatisation found in the West.

- ‘Treatment’ approaches in traditional societies are generally dynamic and optimistic, with clear expectation of successful recovery.

- The emotional isolation found in Western nuclear-family life has also been cited as integral to ‘schizophrenic’ alienation and poor recovery.

- Also, of course the findings raise the question as to whether Western psychiatric treatment itself is doing people more harm than good

- A choice of different forms of therapy.
I fully agree with all the points that you raise - Given that all of the above is missing from the majorities of people treatment in the West - what can be done? All that remains for most of us is the bio-medical model & meds.

I'm utterly dependant on an anti-psychotic med - much as I don't want to be, I don't see what choice I had or have in that; given that I suffer with the condition labelled paranoid schizophrenia. I've been getting more & more depressed - what choice or options do I really have except to try anti-depressants? i don't want to take them either; but I don't see what else I do?
 
oneday

oneday

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I fully agree with all the points that you raise - Given that all of the above is missing from the majorities of people treatment in the West - what can be done? All that remains for most of us is the bio-medical model & meds.
What can be done? Just to try to change the system, I guess – in whatever little way we can (e.g. like you fight for the change you want to see, here on this forum, Apo). But accept that it’s not gonna change overnight or in any big way soon necessarily (it might, but I doubt it – it’s not human nature to change too quickly).

And I guess in what I wrote in the next posting I was trying to lay out the questions that, as a society and as anyone trying to improve things and/or help other people experiencing breakdown /mental and emotional distress, we need to think about and address – again in our own ways, however modest.

I'm utterly dependant on an anti-psychotic med - much as I don't want to be, I don't see what choice I had or have in that; given that I suffer with the condition labelled paranoid schizophrenia. I've been getting more & more depressed - what choice or options do I really have except to try anti-depressants? i don't want to take them either; but I don't see what else I do?

I’m going to answer your question by not answering it, Apo. I’ve been feeling really shit lately, stuck, hard to motivate myself, can’t sort anything out in my flat, don’t keep in touch with anyone (just my family and my ex, basically), I stay in my flat most days, spend too much time on this bloody forum (actually it’s a mixed blessing!). Get some things done eventually but it’s like wading through treacle most-times.

OK, so what you asked prompted me to answer those questions I’d asked above – but thinking what I might do to make things different for myself, what might I be able to do to bring these kinds of qualities and choices into my life more (not what society or the mental health system should do) – that’s what I might be able to do something about, after all, even though it feels like an uphill struggle at the moment.

(I figure that I’m not gonna get anywhere waiting for the mental health/medical system to do anything for me – actually, that’s not quite true but I’ve been seeing a psychologist through my GP (cos that’s what I asked for, and my doc’s been good like that, that’s why I stay with him), and I’m currently doing some CBT therapy with homework about changing what I do in my life, also I got referred through the GP and psychologist to free gym sessions once a week, and to a dirt cheap yoga (or T’ai chi or pilates if I wanted) session weekly too.)

Anyway – so this is my manifesto for myself - my 'what I might do to bring more of these things that might be what's working in other cultures into my life'...

- Get involved, refuse to be marginalised. Find people and places who value me, and where I’ll be valued.

- Find more people who listen to and value my experience, or at least try to understand it.

- Learn from/explore spiritual traditions and understandings (as Isabel Clarke says in that Evolving Minds video, any tradition will do – but find something with a solid tradition). That’s Zen/Buddhism, mindfulness, yoga for me... keep it up. And do it with people, not just on my own.

- Seek out stories of successful ‘recovery’/ change, expect successful ‘recovery’/ change. Keep hope alive.

- Involve myself in dynamic and optimistic approaches towards emotional /psychological distress - therapies and understandings that have a belief in and knowledge of real human change and growth (rather than this pessimistic Western bio-psychiatric blether that this culture has somehow developed and adopted).

- I don’t need to beat myself up. I’m a ‘symptom’ of this society, a product of a history and a present context which goes way beyond ‘me’ as an individual. Be compassionate towards myself - be the kind of friend to myself that I would like for someone else to be to me.

- At the same time, no one can live my life for me and I can’t rely on anyone else changing for me, or changing anything for me. I can only seek out and try and help create more conducive, more nurturing, and more interesting environments and relationships – remember there’s a whole world out there – Have I tried everything? No. Try something new, do something new.

- Share more of my struggle with people around me - with family, friends and immediate community more, and be mindful of/compassionate towards the damage and isolation induced by problems of this culture, and of nuclear-family life. Where can I talk about, sort through these things? – In counselling? Psychotherapy? Co-counselling? A support group?

- Keep choosing. And put myself fully behind my choices (even if it is only to curl up in bed and feel the pain somedays - Be where I am!)

- Try out a traditional medicine system such as Ayurvedic medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine…. (research up others…) Maybe get back into Aikido or another martial art (mind-body-spirit wellbeing systems in themselves).

N.B. Remember that I can't do it all at once (and why would I even need to?) – so don’t make that something else to beat myself up about. Choose one thing, plan to do one thing, start one new thing – in the next month.

Yep. Try something new, do something new in the next month (from above list[?] – or something else if it grabs me more. And remember change is difficult, painful, stressful – even ‘good’ change. Keep on – gently – through…)

I'll let you know how how I get on. Feel free to make your own list if this makes any sense as way forward for you too.

:hug: Take care, Apo. I know how shit it can feel, but hang in there.
One day
 
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Apotheosis

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:hug: Take care, Apo. I know how shit it can feel, but hang in there.
One day
Thank you for the response. I've tried so long & so hard with things; & it's the same. There is no point going over & over the same things & the past.

I don't know if it's the paranoid schizophrenia label - or what it is - but any kind of psychological therapy is denied to me - so that's all out the window - whether rightly or wrongly. I'll never get off this drug that they put me on, or given any opportunity to come off it. I feel like I'll never resolve the difficulties that I have; it all feels utterly hopeless. I feel like I'll never have the opportunity to work through what I have been through - & God Knows I've tried. I feel like I will never be in another relationship again.

I feel like I can't cope or deal with this existence any more - & that it's either a choice of drugs off the doctor - or drink/drugs off the street. At least with street drugs there is a temporary relief.

I know that this all sounds very negative & depressing, & it is; but it's how I feel. Sure family try as best that they can, friends do too - but I live & cope largely alone, very few understand, & I can't do all this alone any more, I'd rather be dead.
 
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diddypinks

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stay strong apoth! remember the illness is working its horrible magic on you
your not alone diddy:hug:
thankyou so much for your reply i agree i know that the old style mental health wards had human rights issues but at least people had a sense of communtiy and being a part of something there now where just shoved out into the community like lone wolfs with a broken leg. i think its peoples fear thats the problem both in the schizophrenic and in others about the schizophrenic take care diddy
 
Star-28

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I experienced 3rd world mental health institutions first hand. I spent time studying in Jamaica for college, and one of my assignments was to visit the largest mental health facility on the island. the people in there seemed just as ill as the people i have seen in the hospitals in the US.

Actually it was even more terrifying because the institution was short staffed, and the clients were able to go about freely in the units. Many of the students were frightened as some of the clients got out of hand and grabbed one of the girls trying to keep her there. Then others got mad when another student tried to flee her, and we all had to run out while being chased.

We had to write letters to the Director of our department to not allow students to go into the institution in the future for safety reasons.

Long story short, mental illness is everywhere. The severity of each illness is going to vary per person as well as treatment. If medication works for you, then good, take it. If it doesnt, then try something else.

People try to pursued too much. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one!!!
 

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