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Psychopathology as Universal
posted: Nov. 21, 2023.
Ray (2018) noted that in the 1970’s, Jane Murphey of Harvard University studied the Eskimos of northwest Alaska and the Yoruba of rural Nigeria. This study was undertaken at a point in time when mental illness was regarded to have a relation to learning and the social construction of norms, or that mental illness did not exist it was simply created by society. In addition, there was also a belief that mental illness had been created by Western societies. A critical implication of this perspective tended to be that what we would define as mental illness in Western culture would be vastly different than that of mental illness in rural culture in a developing nation, for example. Murphy discovered that the two distinct cultures she studied were familiar with the process of individuals being, “out of their minds” (p. 15). Murphy also discovered that the process of maladaptive behavior and distorted thoughts in like manner to schizophrenia are common in both cultures and that distinct cultures have language and words for the terms psychosis and neurosis. Ray (2018) pointed out that Murphy undertook a review of studies conducted by other researchers and concluded that mental illness appeared to be common in diverse cultures. Therefore, the prevalence and similarity across cultures suggests that mental illness is part of the human condition rather than derived from cultures. The researcher noted that culture does play a role in the manifestation of mental illness in the community.
The Evolutionary Perspective
Ray (2018) explained that an evolutionary perspective is helpful in expanding our thinking as psychologists by taking into consideration how certain behavior might be adaptive. For example, as the researcher noted a fear of heights might serve in helping individuals avoid taking certain unneeded risks. Questions can also be raised as to whether certain disordered behavior might be secondary to other processes that might prove to be beneficial. The researcher noted that the blood disorder sickle cell anemia is known to cause an array of physiological problems. However, the disorder also provides resistance to malaria. Individuals with schizophrenia broadly speaking have fewer children than those without the disorder. Hence, the expectation might be that the disorder might have disappeared eventually across the evolutionary history of man via individuals with the disorder having had fewer children with the related genetics to schizophrenia. Schizophrenia in point of fact, occurs at the same percentage (1 %) of the population of the world suggesting that it is an ancient disorder dating back to 80 to 100 thousand years ago and in existence since humans migrated out of Africa. The researcher also noted that the disorder may also have an association with a more positive human trait: creativity.