Throughout the world and for as long as we have historical records the same general types of human behavior and experience have been considered unusual or, as in today’s dominant Western view, indicative of a medical condition thought to be abnormal. In this course we will consider from a scientific perspective what is known about the varied forms of human experience and behavior traditionally thought to reflect psychological problems or mental illness. The emphasis will be on specific descriptions of the disorders, diagnostic criteria, research into their origins, cultural variations in how such behaviors are viewed and treated, and the personal experiences of people showing the symptoms and signs associated with them. Some coverage will be given to therapeutic attempts to help people become more comfortable or to change troublesome symptoms or behaviors. Given our international backdrop we will also be looking at broader controversial topics and public policy issues in the mental health field that students, as world citizens, need to be familiar with. We’ll focus especially on mismatches between the dominant Western model and more local views of how people interpret and deal with climatic disasters, personal tragedies, and garden variety unhappiness.
Field ClassCountry: Vietnam
Day: 2 - Thursday, 12 February
The Dieu Giac Temple Orphanage is located in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, where it shelters and cares for over 120 abandoned, orphaned or street children. They range from several months to 18 years of age and are of different ethnic groups and religious backgrounds. The children of the orphanage are taken care of by a group of Buddhist nuns and volunteers. All the children who reach school age are sent to local school like other children. After school hours, the children learn handcrafting such as knitting, embroidering and making wooden toys which would be sold at the pagoda’s souvenir shop to raise fund for the kids. Academic Objectives: 1. Expose students to local young people showing a variety of social and developmental disabilities and to how a religious order works to meet their needs in lieu of traditional families 2. Provide an opportunity to interact with individuals more as people than as patients 3. Encourage students to appreciate the wide range of social stresses and resulting individual differences among the children they meet