Crazy Like Us: the globalisation of the American psyche

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Scribe Publications Pty Limited, Jun 28, 2010 - Psychology - 320 pages

In Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters reveals that the most devastating consequence of the spread of American culture has not been its golden arches or bomb craters, but the bulldozing of the human psyche itself: it is in the process of homogenising the way the world goes mad.

For the past 30 years, America has been the world leader in mental-health research, and Western definitions of mental illness are prevailing over indigenous beliefs around the globe. In this book, journalist Ethan Watters travels from China to Tanzania to bring home an unsettling conclusion: as America introduces Westernised ways of treating mental illnesses, it is in fact spreading the diseases.

In post-tsunami Sri Lanka, Watters reports on the Western trauma counsellors who, in their rush to help, inadvertently trampled local expressions of grief, suffering, and healing; in Japan, Watters reveals the truth about a multi-million-dollar campaign by one of the world’s biggest drug companies to change the Japanese experience of depression — literally marketing the disease along with the drug.

By examining the Western impact on the psyches of people in other cultures, Watters forces us to take a fresh look at our own approaches to mental health and healing. It turns out that we may have as much to learn from other cultures’ beliefs about the mind as we have to teach them.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ImperfectCJ - LibraryThing

The idea is that diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses are neither static nor universal. They change with time and by culture. By applying the DSM globally, the United States is influencing how ... Read full review

CRAZY LIKE US: The Globalization of the American Psyche

User Review  - Kirkus

Americans may not be any more deranged than anyone else on the planet—but, says pop social scientist Watters (Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment, 2003, etc.), we ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Ethan Watters is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Discover, Men’s Journal, Spin, Details, and Wired. A frequent contributor to National Public Radio, Watters’ work has been featured in the 2007 and 2008 editions of Best American Science and Nature Writing. He co-founded the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, a work space for local artists. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and children.

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