The Neurasthenia-Depression Controversy : A Window on Chinese Culture and Psychiatric Nosology book cover
1st Edition

The Neurasthenia-Depression Controversy
A Window on Chinese Culture and Psychiatric Nosology

ISBN 9780367623012
Published April 6, 2021 by Routledge
238 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is about the largest debate that has occurred in the field of cultural psychiatry and its impact on diagnosing, theorizing, and clinical practice. It is also about the role of culture in psychopathology specifically in relation to China. This book is the first comprehensive and critical assessment of the anthropological psychiatry that has provided Western physicians with their ideas about somatization and culture. It is argued that psychiatric nosology and the broader cultural milieu interact in a fascinating way and co-facilitate individual conformity to culturally salient categories, consciously or unconsciously, through a process of belief, expectation, and learning. The result is that codified experiences can be translated from the mind to the body and back again. Through a critical evaluation of the Neurasthenia-Depression controversy, we can gain a view of the contested and shifting nature of psychiatric nosology, and thereby attempt to introduce the beginnings of a model that elucidates how psychiatric distress varies across cultures.

This timely book challenges conventional wisdom about neurasthenia and depression in Chinese societies. Its findings will be of value to anyone who works with Chinese people with these mental illnesses across the global diaspora.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Western Origins of Neurasthenia 3. Weak Nerves in China 4. Western Psychiatry Engages Shenjing Shuairuo 5. Shenjing Shuairuo Survives into the Twenty-First Century 6. Ongoing Struggles with Nosology 7. Conclusion

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Donald McLawhorn is completing a psychiatry residency in the SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Department of Psychiatry. He has an MA in Sociology from the University of South Florida and a PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He earned his MD from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago. He has presented research on various aspects of cultural psychiatry at domestic and international conferences. His research focuses primarily on the relationship between diagnostic classification and symptom manifestation across cultures.