Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. November 2003

2.7. Culture, Psychosocial Disorders and Mental Health: an African Perspective
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: Erhabor Sunday Idemudia (Bremen / Ibadan, Nigeria)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Report: Culture, Psychosocial Disorders and Mental health: An African Perspectives

Erhabor Sunday Idemudia (Ibadan/Nigeria)


Introduction and Background to Section

Globalisation has permeated every corner of the world and as a result, the world has become a global village. Thus, the impact of globalisation has to some extent brought additional problems in Africa: problems of cultures in transitions. The process of being in transition also breeds crises. These crises affect every facets of life for the African. And what we see now is family breakdown, separation, depressions and other forms of psychopathologies.

But psychology as a discipline has just evolved in Africa, undiluted just the way it was brought from the west and as a result, the potency of psychological practices and other behavioural sciences is unknown or mixed at best and as such, the potential of insights that they provide has not been used in efforts to improve health care and induce new initiatives for socio-economic development. Therefore, new answers are being sought and discovered to deal with the problems, which then serve as challenges to modern psychologists, and psychotherapists to realize, accept and develop further the roots of those African norms and values appropriate for diagnoses and treatment.

Highlights of the Section

Papers in the section include: Mental health and psychotherapy through the eyes of culture: Lessons for African psychotherapy (Erhabor Sunday Idemudia). The paper tried to answer the question: How can people working with Africans see mental health and ways of treatment through the eyes of culture? Through some research questions, theoretical perspectives, the African conception of illness behaviour and treatment were discussed. Some of these generated some future research pathways.

Another paper presented titled: A new strategy against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) (Arnold Groh), extensively dealt with the modes and practices of FGM in Africa and new strategies being formulated. The practices done during childhood and for adult females involve four stages, which sometimes symbolizes adult initiation rites were fully illustrated through the aids of pictures etc. Other papers in the section include: "The unifying aspects of the Ubuntu Culture" (Louw and Madu) dealt largely on how the new "Ubuntu" psychotherapy evolved and developed with the South African norms and values and the efficacy of such therapeutic model. "Psychosocial aspects of epilepsy in Zimbabwe: The impact of culturally mediated perceptions" (Mazdodze) focused on causes, cultural attributions and treatment forms of epilepsy in Zimbabwe. "The impact of colonialism in South Africa on mental health identity development" (Kimberly Richards/Yegan Pilay) defined a post apartheid South African personality through the history of South Africa. Finally, Suba's paper focused on the interactions of culture and health from a Nepalese perspective.


Papers presented attracted questions from participants and also generated future research questions. For example, how to integrate African norms and values with western norms for purposes of diagnoses and treatment. Also, the need to look into the relationship between sexual enjoyment and circumcision, particularly the differences between single and married mothers and how to bridge the gap between cultural norms and FGM prevention without hurting any party were points of hallmarks. Finally, some of the papers also generated gender issues and culture.

The INST conference, no doubt created the expected medium for exchange of experiences among Africans and those working with African clients. The opportunity helped us to meet each other at a cross-cultural cross roads to bring about some understanding at a deep level notwithstanding some differences that were encountered. In doing so, we were able to attend fundamental questions and dealt with some of the problems and challenges of our existence in this globalised world.

© Erhabor Sunday Idemudia (Ibadan/Nigeria)

2.7. Culture, Psychosocial Disorders and Mental Health: an African Perspective

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For quotation purposes:
Erhabor Sunday Idemudia (Ibadan/Nigeria): Report: Culture, Psychosocial Disorders and Mental health: An African Perspectives. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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