Madness as a Cultural Construction

Subject: Culture
Pages: 1
Words: 260
Reading time:
< 1 min

In any culture, there exist notions of dysfunction that westerners have tried to categorize as either mental or biological. These categorizations reflect our personal ways of the conception of human beings and of the domains in which problems may occur. Researchers have tended to describe and explain indigenous systems and popular psychiatric health systems in terms of western beliefs and practices. Cultural differences in the meaning and nature of madness have crucial implications while classifying, evaluating, diagnosing, and treating because cultural changes imply that cultural relativism respect crucial variables like epistemology, personhood, body, health, and disorder, social and interactive spectrum, and the normality. Various cultures differ in the way they construct ‘madness’ since their socialization structures are different.

Normally, culture-bound syndromes are restricted to specific segments of the society and are often localized to people having similar thinking, experience, and observation concerning ‘mental illness.’ General human feelings such as sadness, remorse, and grief are not evidence of ‘mental illness’ but a construct of society. Western culture has for decades viewed mental illness as a form of functional failure. The historical and cultural perspective of the society towards mental illness plays a crucial role in defining how the affected people are assisted by other people. There are different types and patterns of ‘madness’ that are used by society. For example, despair, helplessness, major depression, melancholia among others. These constructions of ‘madness’ reflect not only medical information, but also religious ideas, social relationships, morality, and related emotions.