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Forced Marriage During the Cambodian Genocide

In October 2014, the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Cambodia (2014) published a qualitative/ quantitative study on the long term effects of forced marriage during the Khmer Rouge genocide. It’s called “Like Ghost Changes Body: A Study on the Impact of Forced Marriage under the Khmer Rouge Regime.” You can download it here. The report is extremely thorough describing tradition marriage practices, how forced marriage fit into the Khmer Rouge’s ideology, and… Read Article →

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Qigong Deviation Syndrome in China

The next culture bound syndrome comes from China. Qigong deviation syndrome is classified as a culturally-bound mental health condition in the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders, and it was listed in the DSM-IV also. Qigong deviation syndrome can occur if one practices martial arts or qigong improperly. A western clinician would probably interpret the disorder as a brief psychotic episode. Symptoms include “perception of uncontrolled movement of qi in the… Read Article →

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Why Darwin Is a Terrible Anthropologist

When westerners encounter cultural differences, the tendency is to view the other relative to the western norm and to apply a linear/ Darwinian logic. People think of development as linear and always progressing. The western/ developed world is at one end, and everybody else is lagging someplace behind. As a part of this, we often assume that the problems in our culture or society are not only present in other… Read Article →

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Indigenous People and the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are a set of targets developed by the UN regarding global development. The MDG’s were developed in collaboration with representatives from countries all over the world, and the aim was to accomplish these goals by 2015. The MDG’s appear, on the surface, to be universally good. That’s the first sign that they should be more closely examined. The article Indigenous Peoples and the Millenium Development… Read Article →

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Development and Migration

In Bhutan, I often hear people attribute social ills to migration. Now that I’m working on a project addressing youth suicide, I hear about this even more. Migration here tends to go from rural to urban and from Bhutan to other countries (for education usually). People say that it leads to the breakdown of the family and community, to a loss of identity, to exposure to toxic stressors, and a… Read Article →

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Resource: The Psychosocial Support and Child’s Rights Resource Center

I’ve been a little busy developing my own materials for some new work I’ve taken on. It was in the course of this work that I was referred to the Psychosocial Support and Child’s Rights Resource Center.   This organization out of the Philippines has downloadable research articles and practice materials. The materials cover a range of issues facing kids like disaster response, child labor, trafficking, migration, and child protection. Many of the practice tools… Read Article →

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Development and the Middle Path: Beyond the Criticism

I used to be a therapist at a summer camp for teenagers. We had a rule for groups: you can bring up any problem you like as long as you offer a reasonable suggestion, too. After reading The Ideology of Development by William Easterly, I wish I could apply the same rule to him. In the article Easterly talks about “developmentalism” as an ideology where developed nations and global organizations… Read Article →

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No Monsters Here: Why I’m Not Angry About FGM

Tomorrow (Feb 6) is the UN’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Here’s a fact sheet from the World Health Organization about the practice. As I tried to think of what to write—and what hasn’t already been written?—I remembered my time as a volunteer advocate at a rape crisis center in college. I answered a hotline and accompanied survivors during medical and police exams. I also… Read Article →

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Culture Bound Syndrome Series: Latah

Let’s talk about culture-bound syndromes. One by one. Today brings us to Malaysia and Indonesia where we can find latah. In Malay, latah means nervous, ticklish, jumpy, or love-madness. Latah is a chronic condition that falls into the family of startle-syndromes. When a person with latah is startled, he or she responds with a unique set of behaviors. These behaviors include: coprolalia (blurting out sexually explicit words), forced obedience (the… Read Article →

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Who’s in Charge Here? Rethinking Locus of Control

Last week in class I read about locus of control (either internal or external) being a cultural construct. For those who are already confused: locus of control refers to beliefs regarding who has the power to shape a person’s destiny. If you believe that you have the power, then you have an internal local of control. If you believe that your destiny is determined by outside forces, then you have an… Read Article →