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Cultural scripts for normalcy and deviancy: A mixed-methods approach to understanding mental illness in new contexts

Talk by Andrew Ryder, Culture, Health, and Personality Lab, Concordia University

2020.03.04 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Tue 19 May
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312

Abstract

 

The interrelation of culture and mental health has been the object of sustained investigation for at least a half-century. Although much progress has been made, there remains a divide between researchers working qualitatively (e.g., ethnography, clinical observation) versus those working quantitatively (e.g., epidemiology, psychometrics). Unfortunately, one consequence has been the difficulty in making the jump from important observations made in new cultural contexts to estimates of prevalence, measures for tracking treatment progress, and other metrics that ought to be informed by these observations. Compounding the challenges, practitioners have to apply these two sets of knowledge to individual clients; in multicultural societies, a set of clients on a given day might each be from a different cultural context. Drawing primarily on cultural psychology and cognitive anthropology, I will present: (a) the idea of a 'cultural script'; (b) the importance of understanding consensual scripts for both 'normalcy' and 'deviancy'; and (c) a mixed-methods approach that allows the researcher to systematically map out locally relevant cultural scripts for normalcy and deviancy. I will illustrate several stages of this approach with research examples from my lab from studies focusing on explanatory models of mental illness in Arabic-speaking Muslim migrants in Montreal and in Japanese community-dwellers in Osaka and Tokyo. Towards the end of my talk, I will consider the challenge of translating this work to the multicultural clinic and briefly present a recently-launched study to evaluate a treatment intervention designed to flexibly incorporate the client's local sociocultural world.

   

About the speaker

Andrew Ryder,
Director, Culture, Health, and Personality Lab 
Associate Professor, Centre for Clinical Research in Health & Department of Psychology aConcordia University
Adjunct Professor, Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University   

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