1. In search of the magical pill:
Antidepressant medications are among the most psychotropic medications prescribed to Americans. Barber (2008) reported, as outlined in the textbook, that around 11 percent of women and 5 percent of men are currently taking an antidepressant. It is also common for an individual to seek an appointment with a primary care physician (<link is hidden> PCP) to prescribe medication for mental health issues instead of making an appointment to see a psychiatrist. Why do you think most individuals would rather go to their PCPs for psychotropic medication when this individual has not been specifically trained to prescribe these medications like a psychiatrist has been trained? Is there a fear or stigma associated with going to the psychiatrist’s office as compared to going to a regular family care practice? Why or why not? If you could create a “magical pill,” what would this medication look like, what would the side effects be, to whom would it usually be prescribed, and what issues would it address? What happens to individuals when they cannot find a “pill” to fix their problems?
2. Culture-bound syndromes:
The DSM-5 recognizes that a number of distinct syndromes are culture-specific. Discussion of the specific manifestations of behavioral disorders across cultures and the ways that abnormal behavior can be syndromal (as opposed to simply haphazard) is illustrated in a fascinating manner by this section of the DSM. What do students make of disorders such as Koro, Amok, Ghost Sickness, and other culture- specific disorders? What does their existence say about the nature of abnormal psychology? Hsia and Barlow comment, in a 2001 article, about the differences and similarities between the panic disorder kyol goeu (literally, ‘wind overload’) that is reported amongst Khmer refugees and the Puerto Rican ataques de nervios (literally, ‘attack of nerves’). Many of the same anxiety-based symptoms are described for each. Hsia and Barlow also describe other culture-bound syndromes such as ghost sickness, falling out, brain fag, hwa-byung, shenjing shuairou, shenkui, and shin-byung. Do students think that, given the large discrepancies in typologies but similarities in many of the symptoms of such disorders, this means that diagnosis is inherently culture-bound and socially constructed? What hope is there for a ‘universal’ diagnostic system that could be agreed upon by all human cultures? Also in a Westernized society, bulimia nervosa is viewed as a culture-bound syndrome. What are your thoughts on this: agree or disagree?