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Culture and Psychopathology

The Anthropology of Mental Illness

Georgi Onchev

The book sets itself the ambitious task of exploring the relationship between human culture and the phenomenon of mental illness, that which has embarrassed, fascinated, and challenged educated minds throughout the centuries. Various manifestations of this phenomenon are examined in specific cultural contexts, presented with notable competence, and illustrated with memorable descriptions of clinical cases. (…) The book and its author have many merits—the capacity to present a highly specialized subject in an intelligible, absorbing, and simultaneously profound manner; respectable erudition and academic self-discipline; and the notable skill of handling different domains of knowledge, among others. The most remarkable quality, however, is the author’s concern both for the reader—who is carefully led into quite unknown and still frightening territory—as well as for his protagonists, the mentally ill. All told, I believe that this book will be of interest not just to students of psychiatry, psychology, and anthropology, but also to a broader circle of readers who are excited by the wretched and admirable destiny of being human.

Haralan Alexandrov

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List of Tables


Tab. 1: Basic distinctions between cultures

Tab. 2: Axes for assessing a mentally ill person in the Roman tribunal, 1st century BCE

Tab. 3: Basic differences in psychopathology between cultures

Tab. 4: Results from the International Pilot Study of Schizophrenia (IPSS) in different cultures, follow up for 26 years

Тab. 5: Results from the Determinants of Outcomes and Course of Severe Mental Disorders (DOSMED) in different cultures, follow up for 15 years

Tab. 6: Results from the Reduction and Assessment of Psychiatric Disability (RAPyD) in different cultures, follow up over 14 to 16 years

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