The Culture of Our Discontent:: Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness

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National Academies Press, Oct 9, 2006 - Science - 208 pages
2 Reviews

By many estimations, the Western medical model of mental health is dangerously incomplete. If we step outside of the traditional disease model there are many new and different ways to understand, treat, and even accept mental illness. Culture--how we collectively live, interact, and view the world--frames our mental outlook. Arguably, culture even creates it. Western culture, for example, has completely embraced the medical model of mental illness. We quickly turn to physicians if we are unhappy or otherwise mentally discomfited, seeking solutions on a prescription pad. We expect brain chemistry to be at the root of any mental malady, forgetting the deeply entwined relationship between the biology of the brain and the environment in which we think, feel, and react. But every culture has a different view of the world, a lens through which normal or insane are viewed and defined. Anthropologist Meredith Small contends there is much to be learned from stepping away from the traditional Western medical model to explore and embrace alternative perspectives. By examining culture itself, rather than focusing on biology and medicine, we can fully understand the nature of our discontent. Looking at social, evolutionary, cross-cultural, and nutritional influences, Small deconstructs mental illnesses like depression and anxiety conditions that appear in different forms and for different reasons within the culture that defines them. By rethinking assumptions and questioning standard treatment programs, she helps us gradually relax our grip on the medical model to discover a new perspective on mental illness.

  

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The culture of our discontent: beyond the medical model of mental illness

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

NPR commentator Small (anthropology, Cornell Univ.) turns her eye to mental health, delivering a book that is both more and less than its subtitle promises. It certainly doesn't present a coherent new ... Read full review

Review: The Culture of Our Discontent: Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness

User Review  - Kate - Goodreads

Found have been more stars if longer, good bbook. Read full review

Contents

THE ROOTED SORROW
7
THE EVOLUTION OF THE MIND
35
THE MINDS OF MONKEYS
56
THE HAPPY FAT
74
STATES OF MIND
90
RUNNING AMOK IN A BRAIN FOG
109
CURSED AND HAUNTED
130
A HAPPY ENDING
147
NOTES
159
REFERENCES
169
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
185
INDEX
187
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Meredith F. Smaill is a professor of anthropology at Cornell University and the author of Our Babies, Ourselves; What's Love Got to Do with It?; and Female Choices. She writes frequently for Natural History Magazine, Discover, Scientific American, and is a commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. She lives in Ithaca, New York.

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