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By Dr Suman Fernando, Visit Amazon's Suman Fernando Page, search results, Learn about Author Central, Suman Fernando, , David Ndegwa, Melba Wilson

Forensic psychiatry is the self-discipline which distinguishes the 'mad' from the 'bad', yet are its values inherently racist? Why are participants from non-Western backgrounds over-represented statistically in these clinically determined with schizophrenia and different critical health problems? The authors argue that the values on which psychiatry relies are firmly rooted in ethnocentric Western tradition, with profound implications for person analysis and structures of care.Through specific exploration of the heritage of psychiatry, present medical concerns and current public coverage, this strong booklet lines the expansion of a method during which non-conformity to the existing cultural norms hazards alienation and analysis of psychological illness.

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Extra resources for Forensic Psychiatry, Race and Culture

Sample text

Malik quotes Todorov (1993) on this issue: Modern racialism…replaces physical race with linguistic, historical and psychological race. It shares certain features with its ancestor, but not all; this has allowed it to abandon the compromised term ‘race’…. Nevertheless it can continue to play the role formerly assumed by racialism. In our day racist behaviours have clearly not disappeared, or even changed; but the discourse that legitimises them is no longer the same; rather than appealing to racialism, it appeals to nationalist or culturalist doctrine, or to the ‘right to difference’.

Pick writes: ‘Evolutionary scientists, criminal anthropologists and medical psychiatrists confronted themselves with the apparent paradox that civilisation, science and economic progress might be the catalyst of, as much as the defence against, physical and social pathology’ (1989: 11). Biological ideas of Lamarck and Darwin had become influential and the concept of degeneration, involving race thinking, attempted to explain the other side of what was seen as ‘progress’: it represented an ‘impossible endeavour to “scientise”, objectify and cast off whole underworlds of political and social anxiety’ (1989:10).

Yet, Buddhism, as a system for understanding the human condition, is akin to (Western) psychology rather than (Western) ideas of religion. Safaya (1976) thinks that Indian psychology, embedded in Indian philosophy, has a number of ‘divergent philosophical systems or thoughtcurrents…but there is a common current of idealism and spiritualism running through all of these’ (1976:2). Nobles (1986) believes that the integration of mind, body and spirit is characteristic of the worldviews derived from African thinking, and indeed what Du Bois (1904[1970]) calls ‘Spiritual Strivings’ in his classic The Souls of Black Folk, characterises much of the cultural life of black (African) Americans today.

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