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Clinical Methods in Transcultural Psychiatry

Edited by Samuel O. Okpaku, M.D., Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-710-8
  • Item #8710

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As the international community shrinks into a global village, cultures mix, meld, and blur, presenting psychiatric professionals with new challenges: a growing number of patients of different nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds. These sociocultural identities, so integral to personality, must be recognized and taken into account when diagnosing and treating mental illness. This is the premise behind transcultural psychiatry.

On the leading edge of an emerging discipline, this compendium by respected clinicians from around the world is one of the first books to offer an in-depth look at transcultural psychiatry. Concise yet comprehensive, Clinical Methods in Transcultural Psychiatry draws on a wealth of case studies and relevant clinical experience to provide practicing clinicians with a basic foundation of culturally informed psychiatry on which they can build. Logically organized into six sections, the book begins with an overview of transcultural psychiatry and then moves to the important topic of cultural psychiatry and mental health services. Treatment approaches are addressed next, followed by highlights of recent research; special topics, such as how religious and supernatural beliefs affect behavior; and discussions and recommendations on education and training in transcultural psychiatry. The final section emphasizes families in cultural transition, focusing on the needs of women and children.

Although transcultural psychiatry has never been more relevant than today, most psychiatric textbooks only briefly address it. This fascinating work—covering everything from the impact of magic and religion in Italy to class, culture, and religion in London's inner city—familiarizes readers with the principles and practices of transcultural psychiatry, focusing on the significance of cultural factors in the causes and meanings behind the pain and suffering—as well as the healing—of mental illness.


  • Introduction and background.

    An Overview of Transcultural Psychiatry.

    Transcultural psychiatry: A note on origins and definitions. Recollections of culture and personality. Psychological and clinical aspects of immigration and mental health.

    Cultural Psychiatry and Mental Health Services.

    Cultural epistemology and value orientations: clinical applications in transcultural psychiatry. Healing systems in a multicultural setting. The New Zealand Maori and the contemporary health system: response of an indigenous people to mainstream medicine. Negotiating across class, culture, and religion: psychiatry in the English inner city. Clinical applications of cultural psychiatry in Arabian Gulf communities. Ethnicity and psychopharmacology: the experience of Southeast Asians. Religion and mental health: the need for cultural sensitivity and synthesis.

    Treatment Approaches.

    Culture's role in clinical psychiatric assessment. Somatization and psychologization: understanding cultural idioms of distress. The therapeutic alliance across cultures. Commonsense reasoning in the transcultural psychotherapy process.

    Recent Research and Special Topics.

    Somatization patterns in Mediterranean migrants. Cohabiting with magic and religion in Italy: cultural and clinical results.

    Education and Training.

    Developing curricula for transcultural mental health for trainees and trainers.

    Women and Children.

    Children and families in cultural transition. Psychological consequences of torture: clinical needs of refugee women. Culture and psychiatry: an Indian overview of issues in women and children. Epilogue. Index.

About the Authors

Samuel O. Okpaku, M.D.,M.R.C.P.(I.), F.R.C.P.C., Ph.D., is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

The authors represented an international body of experts. The book is a valuable contribution to clinical psychiatry offering a critique of trans-cultural psychiatry, demonstrating its importance to all those wishing to engage with a practice in multicultural settings. I would recommend it to all those with a special interest in trans-cultural psychiatry but all psychiatric libraries should have access to a copy for undergraduate and postgraduate study.—Kamaldeep Bhui, International Review of Psychiatry, 1/1/2002

This book is remarkable in the breadth of its coverage as well as its success in synthesizing divergent topics into a cogent, well-researched, informative, and clinically relevant volume. . . . It is unique in its global orientation and its use of rich examples from many cultural groups, including not only ethnic minority populations in the Westerncountries, but also communities that until recently may have been regarded as remote and exotic. As we are entering the era of global villages such an orientation is indeed particularly timely and valuable.—Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

[I]t is a compendium of excellent chapters authored by highly respected worldwide experts that covers very relevant topics in the field of cultural psychiatry. I strongly recommend this book as a good reference source, particularly for mental health professionals who already have a strong foundation in the field of cultural psychiatry.—American Journal of Psychiatry

Samuel Opaku, whom I met for the first time in the 1980s, is the perfect editor for such a book, having experiences from several different cultures.—Driss Moussaoui, University Psychiatric Centre Ibn Rushd, Casablanca, Morocco

Clinical Methods in Transcultural Psychiatry is an excellent and important contribution to the education of psychiatrists throughout the English-speaking world, whether they be in their residencies or long out in clinical practice. From the uniquely authoritative historical perspectives of Alexander Leighton and Raymond Prince, to the broad array of richly illustrated current clinical case presentations from diverse social and cultural settings, this is a compellingly readable and informative book. Dr. Okpaku's multi-authored text will be my first choice as a recommended introduction to the domain of Transcultural Psychiatry.—Marvin Karno, M.D., Professor and Director, Division of Social and Community Psychiatry, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

Its is always difficult to bring to fruition a multi-authored book that actually bears fruit. Sam O. Okpaku's skill in editing, coalescing and bringing concrete clinical applications, as well as abstract considerations, into one volume is an achievement worthy of the attention of those interested in the multi-faceted nature of transcultural psychiatry. The work carries a broad level of information and a 'highroad' respect for the vicissitudes of clinical work in transcultural psychiatry.—Edgar Draper,M.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi

This excellent book offers clinicians the opportunity to stay abreast in the dynamic and rapidly changing field of modern transcultural psychiatry. Dr. Okpaku has assembled and integrated cutting edge contributions from internationally prominent investigators in the field. His synthesis will enrich the practice of students, trainees, and practitioners in the field.—Robert F. Kraus, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky

This volume succeeds in bringing together old and new into a coherent whole: it includes contributions by the founding fathers of the discipline reflecting upon their careers and by researchers at the outset of their careers. It represents everything that is best in transcultural psychiatry and is sure to become a valuable reference work for academic teachers, researchers, and clinicians.—Dr. Vieda Skultans, Senior Lecturer & Course Organizer, Division of Psychiatry, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

These topics. . . form a superb smorgasbord of current perspectives on transcultural psychiatry. I highly recommend this rich, insightful, and informative book to readers who are interested in transcultural psychiatry.—Ken-ichiro Okano, M.D.

For readers who want to be introduced to, or be abreast of recent advances in transcultural psychiatry, Clinical Methods in Transcultural Psychiatry will provide them with almost everything they want to know.—The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

I recommend it. . . . The text is chock-full of useful pearls and illuminating examples of how culture affects behavior and the treatment of mental illness. . . . The bottom line is that there is a lot to learn from this book.—Psychiatric Services

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