Culture and Psychiatry

Principal Investigator:

Dr Ivan Crozier


This project looks at the emergence within Western psychiatry of the engagement with cultural difference in mental illness. It commences with the dutch (and to a lesser extent, English) psychiatrists of the 1890s working in South East Asia, who first indentifies the so-called culture-bound syndromes (Latah, Amok, Koro).

These syndromes entered mainstream psychiatry through the writing of Emil Kraepelin, and are now a part of the DSMIV diagnostic criteria (after much debate, which I consider). Numerous other culture-bound syndromes (eg, Windigo psychosis, anorexia nervosa, susto, zar, etc.) have been identified. Additionally, Western psychiatry has developed to include attention to culture as an aspect of mental illness, especially after the writing of Arthur Kleinman.

This project offers a genealogy of modern Western psychiatry through this cultural lens.