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Why the 3rd World is Fighting Modernization

  1. The assumptions of the pioneers of scientific psychiatry about the negative influences of modern western civilization on mental health were not unfounded;
  2. Rapid Westernizing modernization of tradition-directed societies has been shown to have pathogenic effects on social and mental functioning, and these pathogenic effects are especially deleterious for tribal societies.
  3. The further exploration and identification of the psychiatric sequelae of rapid sociocultural change and the working out of preventive measures are today among the
    greatest challenges confronting transcultural psychiatry.
  4. --

It is these three factors which have had Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and much of the 3rd World wonder if Americanization is worth the suffering.

For people not currently treated for mental illness but treated within the socio-cultural framework (via shamans and medicine men) are able to be integrated back into society, either due to remission of their transient psychoses or initiation into the magico-religious setting to replace the shaman they were "cured" by.

Yet it is the fear of psychosis felt by society which stigmatizes the mentally ill regardless of culture.

The true fear of undeveloped nations is that rapid urbanization would overwhelm the often underfunded and underdeveloped health-care system.

As well, the replacement of shamans and medicine men with psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers would imply that the ancient healers would become marginalized and not integrated into the urban landscape as a vital link to the nation's cultural traditions at first.

However, Africa seems ripe to have a civilized African be both priest and shaman, doctor and medicine man.

Indeed, it is possible to integrate cultural tradition with Westernized medicine, so that no loss of cultural tradition is incurred.

Let's hope that America does not force a loss of tradition in the new nations born in the ashes of Yugoslavia.

Let's also hope that both Afghanistan and Iraq manage to retain the best that is of imams and of psychiatrists to take care of the shell-shocked.

And let us hope that the Wahabis' influence dies so that the most enlightened of Islam revives the equality of men and women in their rich culture.

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