1) Mental Illness In South Asian Communities
We will be looking at cultural bias as part of the Year 2 course this year. We’ll look at ethnocentrism: judging other cultures by the standards and values of one’s own culture. We’ll also be looking at cultural relativism: the idea that standards and values can only be meaningful and understood within specific social and cultural contexts. Both of these ideas emerge from this article about attitudes to mental illness in South Asian communities in the UK. There’s an issue of ethnocentrism here. Ideas about mental illness developed in Europe do not sit well with Asian beliefs and norms. This causes problems for people living in minority ethnic communities in the UK. There is a story of one woman whose experience could only be understood when the conversation was in Punjabi. There is no word for “depression” in south Asian languages. The way to deal with illness is to understand it in the context of the norms, values and practices of those communities. You can read about one person’s attempt to engage with these issues here.
2) Art Therapy
This article explains some of the background to asylum art exhibition which is shortly to open at the Wellcome Collection in London. The article is not only interesting for what it says about art therapy but also for the historical context of this therapy. Until 1953, people with mental illness had no rights. The biological approach to treating mental illness only became prevalent after the other illness that put large numbers of people in hospital for a long time, tuberculosis, had been cured by drugs.
3) Synchronised Menstruation
When we study biological rhythms in Year 2 this term, we’ll look at research which suggests that the menstrual cycle is affected by pheromones released by other women. This is important because it suggests that a cycle which would appear to run to its own internal clock is affected by external cues. This article from the BBC looks both at the history of this idea and at an evolutionary explanation for why it might happen. It also explains the case against.
4) Andres Iniesta
Many famous people now talk about their experience of mental illness. This piece about Andres Iniesta, the footballer, is interesting because it defies cliche and gives a telling insight into the inner world of a famous and admirable footballer.
We’ll be studying ways of studying the brain in Year 2 soon. This piece reminds us what fMRI can and can’t tell us about the brain.
6) The Psychology Of Laughter
Sophie Scott at UCL researches this. She writes about some theories about laughter here.