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Universalism without UniformityExplorations in Mind and Culture$
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Julia L. Cassaniti and Usha Menon

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226501543

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226501710.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 06 April 2020

Toward a Cultural Psychology of Trauma and Trauma-Related Disorders

Toward a Cultural Psychology of Trauma and Trauma-Related Disorders

(p.260) Fourteen Toward a Cultural Psychology of Trauma and Trauma-Related Disorders
Universalism without Uniformity

Byron Good

Mary-Jo Delvecchio Good

University of Chicago Press

The goal of this paper is to reflect on what Shweder calls a “cultural psychology” of trauma-related disorders, based on the author’s work in post-conflict Aceh, Indonesia, beginning 2008. Psychiatric categories, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, have long been ‘good to think with’ for those interested in the interface of anthropology, psychology, and medicine. Too often, however, such discussions devolve into debates about whether psychiatric disorders are ‘real’ and universal, though with cultural modification, or whether mental disorders are culturally constituted, distinctive to particular societies. The paper examines the entry of the term ‘trauma’ into Indonesia, arguing that a cultural psychology needs to examine not only the interdependence of cultural and psychological processes, but the embedding of these in local political and historical processes. The paper then outlines recent critiques of the category PTSD, then uses data from a mental health intervention in Aceh to examine the phenomenology of trauma-related disorders, respond to questions of medicalization of normal responses to violence, and ask whether treatment led to recovery, before returning to the question of embedding of trauma and trauma treatment in local cultural, psychological and political processes.

Keywords:   trauma, PTSD, violence, post-conflict, humanitarianism, cultural psychology, Aceh, Indonesia

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