Culture's Perspective of Mental Illness

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(1)– Characteristics of Participants
To understand another culture's perspective of mental illness through their views of behavioral and emotional problems, I interviewed someone who was raised in Seoul, South Korea. He is 19 years old and moved to the United States at the age of nine. He believes in Catholicism and is of straight sexual orientation. He is a sophomore at the University of Florida with a dual major in psychology and microbiology and cell science. These characteristics differ from mine seeing as we are both from various cultural and religious backgrounds. I was raised in London, England and moved to the United States at the age of 11 and believe in Hinduism. I am also a sophomore at the University and of straight orientation. The subject's uncle has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, thus his level of familiarity on the topic of mental illness is high. This may have also have lead to biased answers based on his experiences and the role of his family towards his uncle.

(2)- Scope and Depth of Findings
By participating in the interview process, I learned many different things about the Korean view on mental illness. Korean culture does not have the same concrete definition of mental illness as the one used in American culture. They believe the etiology of mental disorders are of spiritual origin: "crazy or divine diseases" and not an effect of chemical or other bodily imbalances (genetics) as in mainstream American. There is no distinct line drawn between psychological symptoms and physical or personal ones. Korean's tend to consider both kinds of symptoms as signs of "physiological disharmony" and sickness. Mental illness is associated with negative perception. Korean families experience strong feelings of family shame and social stigma. The concept of counseling or sharing one's problems outside the family is foreign. This results in a delay of seeking help until the situation has reached an emergency state. Treatment of mental...
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