Culture & Psychiatry

Monthly Seminar Series for Residents in Psychiatry
Pritzker School of Medicine, The University of Chicago


Bertram J. Cohler, PhD

Timothy McCajor Hall, MD PhD

Tanya Luhrmann, PhD


Syllabus for 2006-2007



Introduction: We envision this course as a two-year sequence of readings and discussions in a broad range of basic concepts in the social sciences relevant to psychiatry: developmental and psychodynamic psychology; cognitive science; psychological, cultural, and social anthropology; and sociology. We will also cover some ethnographic and clinical examples While the course allows for a great deal of flexibility as topics or concerns may arise from time to time, regular participants will acquire a repertoire of concepts and analytical tools from the social sciences.

    Goals of the course are to:

  1. Understand basic methodological approaches in some medically relevant social science disciplines, including how these approaches complement each other and more traditional biomedical approaches.
  2. Learn how better to evaluate evidentiary claims in social science papers (including both quantitative and qualitative studies) and be a better consumer of social science studies.
  3. Learn several widely used models of “mind” and “culture” and how they bear on psychiatry theory and practice.
  4. Increase background knowledge of several social or cultural groups, with the aim of improving communication and healthcare delivery.


Session 1: Evidence in the Social Sciences

20 Oct 2006


Film: “Bathing Babies in Three Cultures.” Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead. (1954) Available from Penn State Media.

Platt, John R. (1964) “Strong inference.” Science 146(3642): 347-353.


Geertz, Clifford. (1984) “ ‘From the Native’s Point of View’: on the nature of anthropological understanding.” In Culture theory: essays on mind, self, and emotion. R.A. Shweder and R. LeVine, eds. Pp. 123-136. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Session 2: Problematizing Sleep

20 Nov 2006


Guest Lecturer: Matthew Wolf-Meyer, MA, University of Minnesota



Dement, William C. (1999) The Promise of Sleep: a pioneer in sleep medicine explores the vital connection between health, happiness, and a good night's sleep. New York, Delacorte Press. Pp: 1-10, 27-49.



Session 3: Anthropologists View Psychiatry I: Life as an outpatient

18 Dec 2006


Estroff, Sue. (2004) “Subject/Subjectivities in dispute:  the politics and poetics of first person narratives of schizophrenia.” Pp. 282-302 In The Edge of Experience: schizophrenia, culture, and subjectivity/culture, subjectivity, and schizophrenia, R. Barrett and J. Jenkins, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Session 4: Culture-Bound Syndromes: Latah

19 Feb 2007


Video: Ronald Simons: Latah, a culture-bound syndrome



Simons, Ronald C. (1985a) “Introduction: the startle-matching taxon” Pp: 41-42 and “The resolution of the Latah paradox” Pp. 43-62 In The Culture-Bound Syndromes: folk illnesses of psychiatric and anthropological interest. R.C. Simons and C.C. Hughes, eds. Boston: D. Riedel.



Session 5: Cultural Models

19 Mar 2007




D'Andrade, R. (1987). “Modal Responses and cultural expertise.” American Behavioral Scientist 31(2): 194 - 202.


Dressler, W. W. and J. Bindon (2000). “The Health Consequences of Cultural Consonance: cultural dimensions of lifestyle, social support, and arterial blood pressure in an African American community.” American Anthropologist 102(2): 244-260.



Session 6: Hysteria and conversion phenomena: trance in South Asia

15 Apr 2007


Guest speaker: Jocelyn Marrow, MSW, MA


Video: Vachani, N. (1990). “Eyes of Stone” [documentary]. New York: FilmSixteen.




Kirmayer, Lawrence and Santhanam, Radhika (2001) “The anthropology of hysteria.” Pp: 251-270. In P. W. Halligan, C. Bass & J. C. Marshall, eds. Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Hysteria. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Session 7: Diagnosing Depression in China

7 May 2007


Guest speaker: Jason Ingersoll, MA












Created 22 October 2006. Last updated 18 April 2007.

For more information, please contact Timothy Hall.