Global Mental Health


“This course has contributed to fueling my interest in anthropology, but besides that I feel like I learned about many rarely-discussed issues in America that have great implications for mental health and our interactions with other countries. I learned a lot about how the cultural environment has huge effects on people’s experiences of mental illness and their general lived experience as part of a culture.”

“So glad I took this class! It was challenging but I enjoyed the readings/discussions and learned a lot through my own research paper.”

“I like how it was student-led and discussion-based because it gave us a safe and welcoming atmosphere to share our thoughts. The material was very interesting. Time goes by quickly in class because of all the discussion. Such a great class! One of my favorites!”

“I loved the amount of engagement by the students that was accepted by you. You always looked very excited by a lot of students’ responses and that was a very enjoyable part of this class.”

“Favorite class I took so far!”

This advanced seminar examines mental illness and psychiatry in cross-cultural perspective. Students will learn about anthropological perspectives on emotions across cultures, meanings of illness and disease, the historical construction of psychiatric knowledge, and the social and cultural context of treatments for mental illness. We examine ethnographic accounts of mental illness in different cultural settings, including in the U.S. In doing so we critically examine psychiatric disease categories such as schizophrenia, “culture-bound” disorders, ADHD, and drug and alcohol addictions.

Previous students of this course read such books as:

The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along the Rio Grande by Angela Garcia

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche by Ethan Watters

A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan by Karen Nakamura

Of Two Minds: An Anthropologist Looks at American Psychiatry by Tanya Luhrmann

Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family by Jean Briggs