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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 34 (1992) 10

New research

The universalism debate from the perspective of two Culture-Bound Syndromes: towards a new paradigm in comparative psychiatry

J.T.V.M. de Jong

The universalism versus culture-specificity debate is illustrated with the examples of the culture-bound syndromes `latah' and `koro'. Two models dominate the universalism debate. The first one is based on a psychoanalytic defense model or a biopsychiatric disease model. The second on de stems from the form-content discussion in art. In recent years a new less exclusivistic paradigm has evolved not being based on the primacy of nature or nurture. This new paradigm has resulted from interdisciplinary research based on the analysis of the relative contribution of biological, sociological, cognitive, emotional and linguistic aspects of human behaviour. With the new paradigm two large cross-cultural WHO-studies on schizophrenia and depression are critically examined. The application of a new generation of culturally-informed psychiatric anthropology is illustrated with an international program aimed at the psychosocial consequences of organised violence and refugee problems.