PSYCH 492 Assignment 1 Cultural Issues Related to Diagnosis

Cultural Issues Related to Diagnosis

The culture, that is, people’s way of life can greatly contribute to how pathology and mental illness is defined. Alder et al. (2009) stated that culture which constitutes norms, beliefs, taboos and expectations is responsible of what we are, what we do and what we think. Therefore, it becomes a central aspect in understanding human behavior and the respective meanings that we assign to individual’s thoughts and actions. Ideally, it will not be surprising to realize how culture greatly influences our mental and physical health. It does this in a complex interplay of various factors that naturally varies from one individual to another. According to Cohen (2011), these factors may include social activities engaged in, diet taken, one’s perception of mental illness, work habits, symptomatic expression and resources to diagnose and treat among others.

In some cultures, taking pills for mental illness is something normal while in others it may be a clear sign of weakness. British drinking practice may seem unhealthy, so too may the USA exhausting work habits that are exhibited by the people. These examples shows the extent to which cultures that varies in different places influences and contributes to the definition of pathology and mental illnesses. Aneshensel et al. (2012) stated that people’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs and perspectives which define culture have been integrated in diagnosis because culture has been identified to be core in psychiatric processes. Since cultural aspects and beliefs are reflected in human behavior, they have been used in diagnosis mental illness in order to understand the kind of medical or psychological intervention that will be appropriate.

Generally, pathology and mental illness puts culture at the centre of its processes. This is because mental illness has no standard psychological test but instead it is normally evident in behaviors and thoughts of those who are mentally ill and thus will define their illness. Hence, since social norms and expectations define our expression, culture is therefore highly relevant to the mental health.


Alder, B., Millar, K., Britton, R., & Penwill, R. (2009). Psychology and sociology applied to medicine: An illustrated colour text. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Aneshensel, C. S., Phelan, J. C., & Bierman, A. (2012). Handbook of the sociology of mental health. Dordrecht: Springer.

Cohen, L. J. (2011). The handy psychology answer book. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press.


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