As a psychology major, I am interested in how the mind works, how people think, and how that influences behavior and mental health. As an anthropology minor, I am interested in culture, history, and how the social world shapes our identity. I believe cultural psychology is a harmonious mix of my interests and has relevant roots in applied medical anthropology. Cultural psychology is know as “the study of the way cultural traditions and social practices regulate, express, and transform the human psyche, resulting less in psychic unity for humankind than in ethnic divergences in mind, self, and emotion.” In the future I would like to work towards understanding how the human mind works universally, but also how it varies between individuals and cultures. Further, I would like to work towards a greater understanding of how our minds and our culture are linked to mental health. In lecture we have discussed culture-bound syndromes. Obviously, cultures are not bound, but they influence our cognitive processes in a variety of ways. Suppose I was working for the Peace Corps on rural community health with multiple volunteers. One of the doctors working there is a psychiatrist from the United States who is not very familiar with medical anthropology, but still concerned with the mental health within the rural community. As a person working in cultural psychology I would be useful to the psychiatrist because not only would I have a background in psychology, but I would have a familiarity with anthropology that would allow me to assess the mental health of these individuals within a cultural context. One reason the anthological viewpoint is useful to psychology and psychiatry is because much of psychological research is based in the Western world. Therefore, what one may think is tried-and-true in psychology may actually only be relevant in the W.E.I.R.D. (western, educated, industrial, rich, and democratic) population. I believe the fusion of anthropology and psychology is a step in the right direction as globalization increases. Although, social relations and interdependence is increasing worldwide there are still an array of cultural intersections that people are a part of. Therefore, as stated in lecture, it is important to consider the complex intersections that form between culture, race, religion, economics, politics, ecology, and the list can go on. The world is not a homogenous bowl of tomato soup, we have thoughts and behaviors that are influenced by where we come from and contribute to our wellbeing.
Lecture 6.1 Applied Medical Anthropology. Week 6: Applied Approach.” ANP 204 course website. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-6-lecture-1
Wikipedia. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_psychology.