Does your culture affect how you respond to trauma?

“The Western models have also been criticized for their strict consideration of the person as a self-contained unity, an individual completely independent of others (Bracken, Giller & Summerfield, 1995).

The author Ethan Watters is a popular author and his viewpoint includes how rational is to apply the Western based PTSD concepts in other cultures. Ethan Watters writes:

After the 2004 tsunami in Asia, many mental-health experts agreed that a ”second tsunami” of mental illness in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder would strike the region. Like doctors rushing to the outbreak of an epidemic, American counselors and trauma researchers soon arrived on the scene hoping to pass on useful knowledge about PTSD. A few years on, however, their efforts have raised a troublesome question: Were they bringing the wrong treatment to the wrong people?

At issue is not whether tragic events like the tsunami trigger debilitating psychological distress and even mental illness — everyone agrees that they can. The question is over the extent to which survivors’ cultural beliefs shape their symptoms. If culture has the impact that some researchers suggest, the PTSD diagnosis may be of little help (and even do potential harm) when applied wholesale in other countries. (The Way We Live Now: Idea Lab; Suffering Differently -Ethan Watters / New York Times. August 12, 2007 )”

via LankaWeb – The Cultural Perspectives on Psychological Trauma in Sri Lanka.


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