patient herself seemed like a very convincing and logical woman and he did not understand how she was actually placed under psychiatric care in the ward. This story makes one ponder upon the different interpretative dilemmas of the content of psychotic manifestations that are encountered by mental health professionals in an attempt to make sense of superstitious or religious beliefs belonging to a non-Western culture in a Western-centric setting. The DSM-IV manual emphasizes at least four times in its definition and explanation of schizophrenia that mental health practitioners need to ensure that they do not misinterpret cultural categories of behaviour with a symptom of psychosis or schizophrenia (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Therefore, if a cultural belief and a display of a psychotic illness can be easily misconstrued, it becomes a scientifically justifiable cause to explore patient and doctor relationships in terms of cultural interpretations and matching them with their own background.
1.5 Symptoms from a Cross-Cultural Perspective In an attempt to decode the manifestations of symptoms of schizophrenia, one would need to make sense of a patient’s symptoms by interpreting his or her experience in psychiatric medical terms. For example, the interpretation of a delusional thought for a European psychiatrist could be done if a patient complains that “his ancestors told him that they are angry at him, and as a result could not sleep”. Grandiose delusions could be interpreted as such if a patient “believes he has a sixth sense and is a natural born healer”. Disorganized speech for a British clinician could also be seen as when a patient 29
Thesis from Brunnel University, United Kingdom, London