Ethan Watters: The Culturally Specific Nature of Trauma
Berkeley Arts and Letters - Hillside Club
American culture is homogenizing the way the world goes mad. Our exportation of everything from movies to junk food is a well-documented phenomenon. But neither our golden arches nor our bomb craters represent our most troubling impact on the world: the bulldozing of the human mind itself.In Crazy Like Us, leading trend-spotter and science writer Ethan Watters shows that we are not only changing the way the world treats and understands mental illness, we are actually changing the symptoms and prevalence of the diseases themselves.Watters travels the world to illustrate the ways in which Western influences have changed mental illness.In Hong Kong, he meets teenagers who have learned from American culture that anorexia is the modern way to express distress, and who began refusing food after a wave of Western celebrities and researchers began raising awareness. In Zanzibar, he witnesses a much milder and more bearable form of schizophrenia than what we have in the States.In Sri Lanka, he sees western crisis counselors bungle the treatment of tsunami victims and actually cause the community more distress.And in Japan, he tells the story of the drug companies selling depression itself to create a market for a new drug.