Behavioral Discrepancies among Cultures
Although I am confident that the issue of behavioral discrepancies among different cultures has been subjected to numerous debates, I still believe that one should start by applying a certain level of impairment perception while tackling this topic. Precisely, irrespective of the society or culture that one belongs to, human behavior can create a given level of disability or negative association in a certain environment. As some behaviors may be considered normal in one society but disregarded in another culture, the issue should be studied irrespective of the environment. The analysis of hallucinations and homosexuality that are seen normal in a particular culture but abnormal in another culture provides an insight into how clinicians should take into consideration the cultural factors while making the diagnosis of psychological disorders.
Hallucinations serve as an example of behavioral discrepancies that exist among cultures. In the Western cultures, someone who is experiencing hallucinations is regarded exceedingly abnormal. Nevertheless, in other cultures, one who hallucinates may be worshiped as being holy or god. The practice is apparent in the Upper Amazon where the Siona, Cashinahua, as well as the Schuar people use hallucinogenic brew called ayahuasca to offer spiritual guide (Nevid, Rathus, & Greene, 2010). Furthermore, the hallucination can be sought out or even induced by taking some kinds of substances. In fact, epidemiological study shows that hallucinations are just the concomitants of foolishness but can also occur to persons without psychiatric challenges (Nevid et al., 2010). Hence, based on this case, that kind of behavior is seen as normal in that society. Another best example that can be used to illustrate behavioral differences among cultures is that regarding homosexuality. Debate about homosexuality in the U.S has occurred since the end of the Second World War and just before 1973. The concept of homosexuality was seen as an abnormal behavior since it deviated from the conventional proscribed sexual and gender norms. Persons who identified themselves as belonging to similar sex orientation were often accused of abnormal behaviors and even estranged from the wider heterosexual society. However, in the recent years, the views on same-sex orientation have changed and even become more accepted aspect among Western cultures as the religiosity in Canada, United States, many European countries, Australia, Latin, as well as South America has been on the decrease. Alternatively, in the Middle East region, where religiosity is very high, the aspect of homosexuality is still seen as an abnormal behavior. In these societies, religious issues have played enormous roles in shaping the norms of the society including the aspects that define one’s behavior as abnormal.
Cultural differences are the aspects that clinicians should take into consideration while diagnosing psychological disorders. Primarily, diagnosing a mental disorder is a delicate process that requires multiple skills. Clinicians should take informed precautions when conducting the diagnosis process and carrying out treatment of culturally diverse patients since once it is done, the life of that person may significantly change. The assessment of these people raises many concerns that clinicians require to incorporate to ensure that accurate diagnosis as well as a treatment plan is prescribed to a particular patient (Mezzich, 2002). The diagnosis of psychologically ill patients has extra layers of complexities compared to non-mentally ill persons, particularly when that patient belongs to a different ethnic or cultural context from that of the clinician. The clinicians, thus, should develop a culturally competent attitude, skills, and knowledge (Mezzich, 2002). They should be knowledgeable of the patients’ cultural background and identity, which should be essential in misdiagnosis and the prevention of biases in the entire process. In addition, clinicians should be well equipped with their cultural beliefs, identity, and attitudes towards minority ethnic groups since these shall influence their relations with the patients. Finally, clinicians should be culturally competent since many traditional ways of diagnosing psychological disorders may not be efficient, adequate, or appropriate (Mezzich, 2002). Through this, clinicians may require an assistance of an interpreter to conduct a patient interview as well as psychological tests.
In conclusion, I would say that abnormal behavior among cultures could be observed through the cultural filter. Many cultures have views that conflict with the ones hold by another society. What is acceptable in one part of the world could also be rejected in another side due to the aspects of cultural differences. The same applies to behaviors that become abnormal in some cultures. The examples are homosexuality and hallucination that are accepted in some societies but seen abnormal in many countries of the Middle East. Similarly, healthcare professionals should be careful when treating patients who belong to different cultures as their opinions and perception of world may differ. They should be trained to handle such situations. In addition, it is vital for clinicians to know that certain behaviors are abnormal, irrespective of where such conducts exist. The concept of behavioral abnormalities differs among cultures, and this may pose a considerable effect regarding the diagnosis accuracy of the psychological disorder in patients. The clinicians should encompass cultural factors that are present among patients when conducting the diagnosis. Hence, an emic approach must be considered when making the diagnosis.
Mezzich, J. E. (2002). Culture and psychiatric diagnosis: A DSM-IV® perspective. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Pub.
Nevid, J. S., Rathus, S. A., & Greene, B. (2010). Abnormal psychology. London, UK: Pearson Education.