Historical reflections on mental health and illness: India, Japan, and the West

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter reflects on how modern concepts of mental health and illness emerged in India and Japan both through dialogue with Western paradigms and practices and by drawing on cultural inheritances and sociopolitical conditions—especially in the context of colonialism and anti-colonial nationalism. A comparative analysis of the Indian and Japanese contexts illuminates five themes in particular of interest in understanding Global Mental Health: dilemmas over how imported Western categories of knowledge can be made to fit with long-standing local ones; the role of cultural nationalism in encouraging local innovations in mental health practice, and frustrating the progress of foreign counterparts; a tendency to use the prevalence of mental illness in society—whether documented or presumed—as a means of critiquing Western modernity and its ill effects; tensions between state policy/provision and private entrepreneurship in catering for psychological and emotional suffering; and the importance of social, and especially family, structures and relationships in determining which sorts of experiences and patterns of behaviour are most readily labelled as ‘illness’ and those which are not.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Sociocultural Perspectives on Global Mental Health
EditorsRoss G. White, Sumeet Jain, David M.R. Orr, Ursula M. Read
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781137395108, 9781137395092
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mental health
  • mental healthcare
  • global mental health
  • cultural nationalism
  • mental health legislation


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