This panel probes the relationship between local categories of mental illness and behavioral disorders, and the "universal" categories of mainstream psychiatry/psychology.
Supported by the WHO and other organizations, the "global mental health" movement is growing rapidly. But what sort of mental health services will be introduced into those countries said to "lack" them? Before such questions can be answered, there needs to be a basic discussion on the relationship between the purportedly universal diagnostic categories of mainstream psychiatry and the local categories of mental illness/ behavioral disturbance that are more typically the focus of anthropologists. What should be the balance, if any, between them? How can such local nosologies be investigated and described? How "systematic" are they, and is this important? Can the nosologies of mainstream psychiatry (as found for example in the DSM and the ICD) be regarded as "vernacular"? Can the anthropological interest in "embodiment" be combined with standard measures in psychiatric epidemiology, based as they are on linguistic articulations of inner states? What about the question of etiology? What is the relation between physiological, sociological, and supernatural etiologies of mental illness? Where do they overlap, and when are they incommensurable? In this panel, we welcome discussions of such questions from those interested in cultural psychiatry, psychological anthropology, and global mental health.