Psychological Disorders

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Book Chapter

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Two perspectives on psychological disorders and culture have been developed in cross-cultural psychology: relativist and universalist. The relativist perspective views psychological phenomena in a relative perspective and focuses on the unique cultural context of psychological disorders. The universalist perspective maintains that there are common, invariable symptoms of psychopathology across cultures. When attempting to diagnose and treat an individual, a professional should know the client’s reference groups and the ways in which cultural context is relevant to clinical care. Cultural norms, availability of resources, national standards on health, access to technology, social inequality, and many other environmental factors could affect the individual’s health and general well-being. Differences in diagnostic practices can account for cross-cultural differences in reported symptoms and could explain cross-cultural variability. In addition, the cultural background of the professional can influence his or her perceptions of different behaviors. Psychotherapy across countries has different historical and cultural roots and varied cultural expressions. In general, the context of therapy should be consistent with the client’s culture to achieve the goal of cultural accommodation.

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