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The Diagnostic Concept of Schizophrenia Essay

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Updated: Dec 13th, 2020


Mental disorders are the field of medicine that is evaluated differently in various cultures, and their treatment depends on the views of the supporters of particular care systems. To analyze and confirm this theory, standard schizophrenia will be considered. The full name of the diagnostic category in DSM-5, Schizophrenia, 295 (American Psychiatric Association, 2018). Cultural and historical contexts have largely influenced the perception of this mental disorder, and the assessment of this disease and its features in different cultures is not the same.

Culture of the Disorder and Assessment Criteria

The perception of schizophrenia today is ambiguous not only among ordinary citizens but also in the healthcare sector. According to National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK) (2014), “calling someone a ‘schizophrenic’ or a ‘psychotic’ gives the impression that the person has been wholly taken over by an illness, such that no recognizable or civilized person remains” (para. 57).

Despite the fact that this disorder belongs to the category of mental and is not unique from the standpoint of symptoms, modern society perceives people with this disease as outcasts and does not dare to maintain contact with them. Moreover, the situation is complicated by the fact that patients with schizophrenia have an increased tendency to alcoholism, which exacerbates their social adaptation (Turkington & Lebert, 2017).

Nonetheless, different scholars carried out relevant clinical work. At the beginning of the 20th century, Emil Kraepelin who was one of the pioneers of this science proposed to consider the phenomenon of schizophrenia apart from others (Jablensky, 2010). However, as Jablensky (2010) argues, the scholar never considered specific criteria defining the disease. Eugen Bleuler was the person who modified the Kraepelin’s concept noticeably, proposed the appropriate classification of the disorder, and gave it a diagnostic profile (Jablensky, 2010). By today, much research has been done; nevertheless, Bleuler’s contribution is significant.

Abnormality and Typicality of Schizophrenia in Different Cultures

Schizophrenia is perceived as an unnatural phenomenon in an environment where people think rationally, and the modern dynamic lifestyle does not allow the normality of the disorder. According to Stanghellini et al. (2015), abnormal time experience as one of the factors of the disorder manifestation draws the line between what is considered acceptable and forbidden in public behavior.

In low-developed countries, where civilization has not gone too far, schizophrenia is not perceived as something extraordinary. In contrast, a person with such a disorder may have the special status of an unusual subject with a special opinion. As Luhrmann, Padmavati, Tharoor, and Osei (2015) note, “as people pay attention in culturally varied ways, there are small but important cognitive biases” (p. 648). Therefore, the criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia may be applied in a different context, which contradicts the Bleuler’s concept and does not imply a severe mental disorder.

Cultural Factors and Issues

To diagnose schizophrenia in other cultures, it is possible to pay attention to different aspects. Peltier, Cosgrove, Ohayagha, Crapanzano, and Jones (2017) argue that racial and ethnic factors are significant criteria for evaluating the degree of the disorder. Historical stigmas have left their mark on the perception of schizophrenia, and the issues of healthcare development in certain cultures, for instance, adherence to traditional medicine, also have an impact (Singh, Mattoo, & Grover, 2016). Therefore, the conclusion about the different contexts for assessing the disease is rational.


American Psychiatric Association. (2018). Web.

Jablensky, A. (2010). The diagnostic concept of schizophrenia: Its history, evolution, and future prospects. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 12(3), 271-287.

Luhrmann, T. M., Padmavati, R., Tharoor, H., & Osei, A. (2015). Hearing voices in different cultures: A social kindling hypothesis. Topics in Cognitive Science, 7(4), 646-663. Web.

National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). (2014). . Web.

Peltier, M. R., Cosgrove, S. J., Ohayagha, K., Crapanzano, K. A., & Jones, G. N. (2017). Do they see dead people? Cultural factors and sensitivity in screening for schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Ethnicity & Health, 22(2), 119-129. Web.

Singh, A., Mattoo, S. K., & Grover, S. (2016). Stigma associated with mental illness: Conceptual issues and focus on stigma perceived by the patients with schizophrenia and their caregivers. Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry, 32(2), 134-142. Web.

Stanghellini, G., Ballerini, M., Presenza, S., Mancini, M., Raballo, A., Blasi, S., & Cutting, J. (2015). Psychopathology of lived time: Abnormal time experience in persons with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia bulletin, 42(1), 45-55. Web.

Turkington, D., & Lebert, L. (2017). Psychological treatments for schizophrenia spectrum disorder: What is around the corner? BJPsych Advances, 23(1), 16-23. Web.

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