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Recognition of Mental Disorders-Reply

Sally W. Vernon, PhD; Robert E. Roberts, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(11):1344. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290110092016.
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In Reply.  —We are pleased to respond to Dr Weiss' comments, and elaborate on the problem of cross-cultural measurement in psychiatry. We certainly agree that anthropological data show both the similarity and the diversity of expression of different mental disorders. Moreover, the international studies sponsored by the World Health Organization demonstrated the feasibility of translating and using, in varied cultural contexts, measures developed in one culture.1,2 In fact, we endorsed the usefulness of this "etic" approach, although we did not call it that.However, we believe that before operational measures of concepts such as "depression" or "schizophrenia" are transported from their "culture of origin," it is necessary to examine the accompanying assumption of conceptual equivalence. Leff recommended that interviews based on Western conceptions of psychiatric disorders be supplemented with indigenous concepts of mental ill-health, and we agree. The latter consideration would encompass emic perspectives of the phenomena of "mental disorders."

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