Essay on Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics

2166 Words9 Pages
Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics is the ethnographic study of a small town of An Cloch'an on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. Nancy Scheper-Hughes lived in this small village in order to gain perspective to why there was such a large number of schizophrenic cases within Ireland, and also why such a large percent were unmarried males. She wanted to dissect the issue of why these individuals were so prone to schizophrenia and what cultural factors cause these high rates. Scheper-Hughes interviewed both individuals in the village but also patients in the nearby mental institution. She relied heavily on thematic apperception tests and interviews for her conclusions. She found several cultural factors create an environment for high rates…show more content…
The labeling theory explains how a community or culture defines deviant behavior, and the proper diagnosis to treating the individual. This can be seen in An Cloch'an, where psychiatric problems are “rarely made by the villager himself”(Scheper-Hughes 161). Although initial hospitalization is rarely in acted by the individual, the patient eventually internalizes his behavior as deviant and will identify himself as insane once institutionalized. However, the labeling theory can only be used within the definitions of the culture, since different cultures will define abnormal behavior differently. In the context of some Non-Western cultures, symptoms of schizophrenia are praised, and those who may hear voices or hallucinate are deemed as spiritual, and given the role of prophet or shaman within the culture. Although schizophrenic symptoms are revered in some cultures, within Ireland there is not only a stigma to the patient,but to the family as well (Scheper-Hughes 283).Scheper-Hughes explains that schizophrenia is a family condition; to the extent where there is a pathology for the “schizophrenic mothers”. Defining the mothers of schizophrenic patients as obsessive, sexually and emotionally immature, repressed, guilt ridden and ignoring the needs and demands of their children (Scheper-Hughes 257). This clinical diagnoses for mothers of schizophrenics only deepens the social stigmas, and created more resentment among the family members toward the patient. Not
Open Document