PSYC14H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Mental Disorder, Critical Role, Morita Therapy

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7 Dec 2010

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I. Mental Health and Well-Being
a. Culture and General Well-Being
i. Subjective Happiness
1. Diener & Diener (1996) - ³0RVW3HRSOHDUH+DSS
x Compared the subjective well-being of Nations on the scale of 0 to 10
x A disposition towards pleasant affect facilitates exploratory behaviour, supporting evolutionary
x However, difficulty meeting basic needs or other circumstances
(e.g., lack of respect) may decrease well-being.
2. Subjective Well-being & World Happiness
x According to world map of happiness, western countries are the happiest. Happiness seems to be
closely linked to access to Health(.62), Wealth(.52) and Education(.51)
x Denmark is the happiest nation in the world, Canada is 10 and US is 23.
x Why is Denmark the happiest? Seems like it is the culture of balance, people can balance their
individual and interpersonal self quiet well. There is acceptance for everyone.
ii. Physical Health
x Traditionally, physical health was viewed as largely biological issue, and outside the realm of
cultural influence. However research has shown that psychological variables are linked to
physical health, and culture influences a wide range of psychological variables.
1. Biological Variability of Humans
x Two distinct categories of explanation of the extent to which human biology varies across
culture. a. Genetic Variation Across Populations
x Humans in different parts of the world were subject to different selection pressure over
generations and this has resulted in human genome diverging across different cultures. In other
words there are innate biological differences across culture.
x Most salient example is skin colour ± When people moved to places with less UVR, people with
lighter skin had selective advantages over people with darker skin, this caused the difference in
skin colour.
x Another example is the lactose persistence in places where cows have been domesticated for
long period of time
x Culture factors are unlikely to play much role in shaping genome because cultures are quiet fluid
and changes over generation. Genetic evolution occurs at a slow pace across many generations
so aside from some large scale culture changes, it is unlikely that culture factors have played a
strong role in human evolution. Furthermore no compelling evidence of genetic variations
underlying psychological processes.
b. Acquired Physical Variation Across Cultures
x Example Moken children have twice the underwater visual acuity of European children.
European children can also be trained to develop same kind of acuity.
i. Obesity and Diet
x Tremendous variability in obesity rates around the world. Although it is possible that certain
weight related genes are more common in one culture than in another, culture definitely plays an
important role in cross-national differences in body weight.
x Obesity rate have risen dramatically across the US and UK, it is not possible that there was an
influx of people with weight related gene into the country.
x Some factors discussed are high calorie food and soda, less activity and more suburban lifestyle.
x French Paradox ± food in France are richer yet obesity in US are five times that of France. One
reason given is that French consume more wine. An alternate explanation to this is the fact that
French consume fewer calories because their cultural environment affects the size of portions of
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their food and their attitude towards food. People in France have a more positive attitude towards
food. ii. Culture and Height
x Culturally shared dietary habits can also have an effect on average height.
x Genes can explain the height difference within culture but are not successful in explaining the
difference in heights between cultures.
x Link between wealth and Height can be explained by the fact that wealth brings in healthier
x In most industrialized countires today, except US, kids tent to be taller than their parents. It can
be due to the fact that teenagers non healthy diets are depriving them of necessary growth
nutrients. Another non compelling argument is that US receives a lot of immigrants. Another
explanation is that US has greater income inequality.
All these evidences suggest that cultural participation manifests itself physically inside people and culture is not
something that simply lies outside of people.
2. Socioeconomic Status and Health
x SES has shown very strong relation with health outcomes consistently.
x Clear relation between employment category and mortality, those with highest SES tend to live
longest. a. Access to Health Benefits
care. But it is shown that even amongst people with state provided health care; people with
higher SES have better health outcomes. So access to health benefits may be relevant but it is not
the main reason for differential health outcome.
b. Hazardous Jobs
x People with low SES may have jobs that put them in hazardous situations, however it is still
shown that there is a difference between health outcomes of people working in the same office
jobs. c. Unhealthy Habits
x Poorer people are more likely to participate in cultural context that encourage unhealthy habits.
Evidence that people with lower SES are more likely to smoke, eat poorer diet and exercise less.
However, even when different levels of behaviours are controlled for, there still is a clear
relation between SES and health.
d. Stress
x Stress has been proposed as the key mediator between the role of status in health outcomes.
When people are facing chronic stressors in their lives, their risks for medical illnesses often
x This can be due to two reasons:
o Chronically stressed people are more likely to engage in health- compromising
behaviours to cope with difficulties in their lives.
3. Ethnicity and Health
x Disadvantaged minorities around the world tend to be of lower SES, hence they often experience
worse health outcomes.
a. Lack of Control
x People are especially likely to feel stress when they are feeling a lack of control.
x People with higher social positions and hence SES report feeling more control than those at
lower positions
x People who feel lack of control have:
o Higher risk of heart diseases
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