Filipino Psychology: on Spirituality, Homosexuality, Psychopathology

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On Filipino Psychopathology

Psychopathology is said to be the deviation of an individual’s behavior as compared to the norms of the society. It is classified into two—neurosis and psychosis. In a third world country like ours, it is a fact that poor people outnumber the rich ones, that’s why most Filipinos are prone to having problems, especially economic/financial ones. For some, these problems lead to emotional and psychological disturbances. But the question lies on which extent does these disturbances lead to, whether the individual is still intact with reality or not anymore. This is where the study of psychopathology comes in, focusing on the different dynamics of mental disorders in the Philippines, like on what reasons why the Filipinos lose their sanity or on what standards do the society perceive these insane people. More often that not, when a Filipino encounters a neurotic, one who manifests emotional conflict but still is able to be in touch with reality, he would usually do all things to help that person out. This is due to the notion of the Filipino’s intrinsic pakikipagkapwa. He is naturally concerned with the problematic person’s emotional and psychological well-being. Whether he may be the person’s relative, friend, or even just a co-worker, he would provide aid so as to ease the person’s burden. He wouldn’t want him to become a baliw.

But what happens if the person becomes a baliw? There are different trends on how the Pinoys treat the baliw. If the person has a coherent family system and his family has money, then he probably would be treated with some kind of psychotherapy, psychopharmacology or be sent in a special school (as for the case of special people). If in case he indeed has supportive relatives but don’t have the money for therapy, then he would just be kept inside the house, treated by the other family members as normally as possible and without any intervention. But if his family is very poor or very unsupportive of him because of his mental illness, then that person would be seen wandering in the streets, and people would be scared of him probably because he is shouting and untidy or lost and walking naked. Through this we could infer that the Filipino society in general has attributed a negative implication on the baliws.

Since the Filipinos as a whole have close family systems, it is important to note that the concept of family is a significant aspect on the individual’s mental illness. The Filipino psychopathology indeed adheres somehow to the family systemic model, believing that a person’s pathology is attributed to his family systems. In a society that expects everyone to have not only smooth interpersonal relationships but also smooth family relationships, a person might find it hard to cope up with his problems when his family has defective communication or is shattered in structure. Sure, he could seek aid/comfort from his friends, but certainly on the back of his mind and in the depths of his heart, he is utterly concerned that his family is not like the other happy Filipino families he has known.

It is also vital to note that culture is a big part on the study of Filipino psychopathology. We have to be aware that there are some beliefs that for us may be normal but for other cultures may be aberrant. One profound example of this is the people’s belief on the faith healers. Some of these individuals would claim that they are able to talk to some famous hero or saint, or they had encountered apparitions, and this was the cause why they were endowed with such gift of healing. Faith healers are indeed part of our culture, but are we to believe such convictions, or would we think that those are just the distorted thinking of the faith healer? Surely with such behaviors, the DSM IV would categorize these faith healers as individuals manifesting the symptoms of the schizophrenics.

But among all, what is most essential to take notice on is the present situation on the...
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