It seems that anthropology looks at the norms of different societies, but I haven’t seen them look at the abnormal things in societies, such as mental disorders. I am pretty sure that other cultures have mental disorders and clearly deal with them in different ways. Through my classes in psychology we have not only talked about how different tests are designed to help find people with disorders, but also understand the degree of the disorder in both the United State and many other cultures. Although, I highly doubt that they have made a test compatible for a culture such as, I don’t know, the Nuer. I know that any tests that have been created will not work for smaller cultures like the Nuer because they focus on the general population in major societies.
I know that in “Engaging Anthropological Theory”, by Mark Moberg, he talked about the wonderful Freud and how they took a look at his Oedipus complex based theory. Moberg also talks about transference and projection and other things like that; but, what I am looking at is mental disorders such as schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder. I know that a good amount of them can be transferred through genetics, but I’m sure that these smaller cultures can’t escape some of the disorders. If they could, I am pretty sure that psychologists and anthropologists would jump on how to effectively rid these people from having these disorders. I know that a lot of mental disorders are triggered by stressful events and traumatic experiences, but I just haven’t seen them addressing these symptoms in other cultures in any of the books we have read so far.
I wondered what people would do if any of these cultures did have someone in their village with a mental disorder? Would they try to faith heal them, exercise or banish them from their village. I know that in the film we watched in class they had a scene where they believed someone to be possessed by a dead relative. I couldn’t help but think: did this person had something wrong with them or did a confirmation bias occur. Oh, if you don’t know what a confirmation bias is, it is when people will favor their beliefs until it becomes their reality even if everyone else views it as wrong (side note: I wonder if a confirmation bias happens a lot in anthropology as it does in other areas). It is interesting to see how misunderstood people with mental disorders are treated in our society, but at the same time fascinating to see how other cultures view them.
If you don’t know what some of the major mental disorders are, they include: schizophrenia, border-line personality, bipolar, and character disorders (which include eating disorders, anxiety, OCD, etc.). If you would like to know more about these disorders, please comment on this post and I can try to explain them to you.
Back to the main point, my question is: do other smaller cultures, such as the Neur, experience any of these disorders? Since I am new to anthropology I am very curious to hear what everyone else thinks about this topic.