Do you think you know what is abnormal? Well, hopefully by the end of this talk you won't!
In this our final connection, I taped a lecture on culture and mental health for Prof. Felmban's Cross Cultural Psychology class.
1. What Criteria Should We use? I first discussed the various criteria that have been put forth to understand abnormality, best conceptualized as the 4 Ds (eg deviancy, distressing, dysfunctional and dangeriousness), and discuss the shortcomings of each criteria.
2. Is distress, and the way that it is expressed, universal (etic) or culturally specific (etic?) Next, I tried to help students understand distress using emic and etic approaches by further analyzing the cultural idiom of distress known as ataques de nervios.
3. Analysis of Culturally Specific Form of Distress. Then I discussed the 4Ds in relation to ataques
4. What type of help should I give? And finally discussed various ways to treat this form of distress that use etic (eg use of behavioral and cognitive techniques to lower arousal) and emic (eg use of rubbing alcohol) to help lower emotional arousal.
The hope is that students come away with a more nuanced idea of distress that does not simply reduce illness to purely biological dysfunction.
How do students who live on opposite sides of the world get to know each? As part of our global course connection, students at our respective sites were paired with a partner with whom they had to interview. The results? Stay Tuned for postings below.
Coming to class after the Election was very difficult. I briefly considered cancelling class as I personally was not sure if I could come in to teach. It had been a very painful night and the thought of holding class, as if nothing had happened, seemed dishonest at best.
However, I also knew that it was precisely these moments when I *had* to teach. By not teaching, I was staying silent, and that option seemed like the worse of all. Of all the classes that I teach, Cross Cultural Psychology, is by far the most meaningful and, by extension, also the most difficult to teach.
Indeed, as I often tell my class, It is only when things get hard and uncomfortable that I know I must be doing my job right.
Why? Because learning about others and accepting others where they are is unbelievably difficult. As I stressed to my class, good people can, and do, disagree. And yet, while this is true, it is also important that we do not impose the burden of tolerance solely on those who have historically carried the heavier load.
So what did I do? I held class - and it was difficult - but I hope good. Students talked if they wanted to or sat in silence. And then I gave them the option - to write to our sister school, Effat University, in Saudi Arabia, so that they may explain their feelings at this point
This assignment was completely voluntary and ungraded. Students could write a direct letter to their assigned partner or just write a more general letter. Students could sign their letters or not. Many of the students did take me up on the offer and I wrote as well.
The photo above is my letter to my friend and colleague, Prof. Wedjan Felmban. I value our intercultural and interfaith friendship and my experience in connecting this class just reaffirms my faith in the power of teaching Cross Cultural Psychology.
Today Prof. Felmban guest lectured to our Cross Cultural Psychology Class on her dissertation which dealt with the phenomena known as the bias blind spot.