Shelf Help: ‘Our Most Troubling Madness: Case Studies in Schizophrenia Across Cultures’ - Pacific Standard

Shelf Help: ‘Our Most Troubling Madness: Case Studies in Schizophrenia Across Cultures’

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Dispatches from India, Thailand, Ghana, and other locations.

By Peter C. Baker

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Our Most Troubling Madness: Case Studies in Schizophrenia Across Culture. (Photo: University of California Press)

Our Most Troubling Madness: Case Studies in Schizophrenia Across Cultures
Edited by T.M. Luhrmann & Jocelyn Marrow
University of California Press

Numerous international studies have confirmed that, while schizophrenia occurs at the same rate (one person in 100) worldwide, the specifics — who gets the disease, and how it affects their lives — vary from culture to culture. Notably, individuals with schizophrenia do worse in the West than in the developing world. This anthology collects case studies from around the globe, with dispatches from India, Thailand, Ghana, and other locations. The point is less to advance a single, overarching argument and more to demonstrate, through close attention to people’s accounts of their own lives, how inextricable psychosis is from how a society responds to it. As the editors note, people with schizophrenia in Western societies are more likely to lose their place in family and social life, triggering “social defeat”: a debilitating sense of loss, failure, and hopelessness.

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