Med Law. 1997 ; 16(3): 509-40.
Mental illness in India and Britain: theory and practice.
South Bank University, EPSS London, U.K.
The paper argues that conceptions of mental illness and its treatment often stem from the normative social and cultural constructions of mental illness. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other health professionals do not work in a social vacuum; they work within the accepted traditions and values prevalent in their culture. To understand mental illness it is therefore necessary to examine the salient normative beliefs, attitudes, and values of a given culture. The paper proposes a cross-cultural theoretical and empirical model which permits a close examination and comparison of mental illness in two cultures: India and Britain. The proposed model from which several testable hypotheses have been deduced, rests on the following four factors; [Table See Text]. The nature and the importance of the factors in explaining mental illness and the culture-specific treatment strategies which follow in the two cultures are critically discussed in the paper.