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Cult Med Psychiatry. 2008 Dec;32(4):462-91. doi: 10.1007/s11013-008-9110-6.

Navigating diagnoses: understanding mind-body relations, mental health, and stigma in Nepal.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Anthropologists and psychiatrists traditionally have used the salience of a mind-body dichotomy to distinguish Western from non-Western ethnopsychologies. However, despite claims of mind-body holism in non-Western cultures, mind-body divisions are prominent in non-Western groups. In this article, we discuss three issues: the ethnopsychology of mind-body dichotomies in Nepal, the relationship between mind-body dichotomies and the hierarchy of resort in a medical pluralistic context, and, finally, the role of mind-body dichotomies in public health interventions (biomedical and psychosocial) aimed toward decreasing the stigmatization of mental illness. We assert that, by understanding mind-body relations in non-Western settings, their implications, and ways in which to reconstitute these relations in a less stigmatizing manner, medical anthropologists and mental health workers can contribute to the reduction of stigma in global mental health care.

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