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Resource: Community-Based MHPSS in Areas of Mass Violence (MSF)

MSF has published a manual that provides a good basis for psychosocial interventionists responding to man-made crises. It’s basic and intended for coordinators and lay people. Psychosocial and Mental Health Interventions in Areas of Mass Violence: A Community-Based Approach by Kaz de Jong for Medicins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors without Borders. March 2011 I think it would be a useful tool in communicating and psychoeducation, especially for non-mental health colleagues or… Read Article →

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Kreung Love Shacks in Cambodia

Every time I get an idea for a quick post, google proves me wrong. I wanted to write about the Love Shacks I saw in Cambodia. This was going to be a quick post about an interesting tradition. Instead, I found myself reading articles about modernization vs. female sexual agency. The Kreung tribe in northeastern Cambodia have a tradition of building their teenage kids Love Shacks. These are small one… Read Article →

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How the US Endangered Health Workers and Global Efforts to Eradicate Polio

Back in 2010, Osama Bin Laden was still somewhere in the Middle East, eluding the US military. His existence seemed to delegitimize the previous years of war and military action in the region. Ok, so there were no WMD’s. But there was Bin Laden, and he was the next best thing. In their narrow-minded focus to capture this man, the CIA concocted an intelligence gathering scheme that put health workers… Read Article →

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Resource: The Peace Corps’ Culture Matters Workbook

I was introduced to this wonderful workbook in one of my University of British Columbia’s Certificate in International Development classes. No matter what you think of the Peace Corps, it’s a great resource. The workbook breaks down culturally driven values and behaviors in American and other cultures. It’s incredibly thorough and yet easy to understand. I most appreciated the self-assessment quizzes and the lists of behaviors that reveal a culturally-determined value. Want to know… Read Article →

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Culturally Bound Syndromes: Running Amok in Malaysia

Running amok is a culturally bound syndrome from Malaysia. It occurs almost exclusively in men. It is a brief dissociative and violent episode that often ends with the sufferer’s death. Those who survive usually report amnesia. The Malay people believe that the cause is hantu belian, an evil tiger spirit that enters the person’s body. Many people are familiar with the term “running amok” as its often used by Westerners… Read Article →

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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 →