How are Mental Disorders Viewed

Mental disorders can be seen from different points of views; it’s a word that not every culture has in their vocabulary and varies between them. Nichola Khan writes about a course that teaches mental disorders including the anthropological view since most courses are studied through the psychological view. By definition, psychology is “the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.” and anthropology is “the study of human kind, in particular.” Both social sciences have common ideas but they look at topics through different perspectives, one involving more the sciences and mind and the other more the human and the cultural aspect.

The definition of a mental disorder varies; for example, a mental disorder in America is described as a disability or abnormality a person has that impairs them to function in their day-to-day life. Other cultures look at mental disorders as the devil getting into the person and they must be treated through rituals and religious services. Classifying a person as “normal” varies through personal opinions.

The meaning of normality and abnormality varies according to beliefs because what’s normal for an American can be abnormal to a Japanese person.

Ways of treating mental disorders are also modified. Some would threat them with medicine but not everyone beliefs in the sciences and medicine. Medicine provides treatments that come in pills to electroshock therapy that can be helpful for some but not all. The anthropological view would wonder if medicine cures the disorder or should they rather explore what is causing the disorder. Anthropology comes very handy when it comes to illnesses because it would explore the causes, cultural influences, and the background of how the disorder has been treated and could be handled.


Teaching ‘Mental Disorder’