Re: private practice anthro'-clinical anthro'

ralph ambrose (
20 Apr 1995 07:04:52 GMT

Discussion of the future of clinical anthropology:

I invision Clinical Anthropology as an holistic approach
to promoting good mental health that includes a multicultural
awareness, and an understanding of the human need for culture,
ritual, and myths. I feel it should be based on the theory
that individuals need not completely identify themselves with
their culture of origin, but may choose for themselves the
aspects of their culture of origin and the aspects of other human
cultures which are meaningful to them.

Personally, I disagree with certain aspects of psychology. Psychology
adresses the norms and deviance from these norms. It assumes
people should be well adjusted to their society (perhaps we really
should say culture.) I do not think that being well adjusted is
always healthy. Many socio-cultural practices may be considered
unhealthy. But now it may be important to redefine mental health.

Simply, I would say good mental health is a state or perspective that
allows individuals to endure, cope with, and control stress without
serious physiological health consequences. Self-confidence seems to be
an important ingredient. Therefore, studies of the physiological
effects of stress may reveal various ways to achive and maintain
mental health. Anthropologists are doing research that relates to

I hope clinical psychology or anthropology will focus less on
cultural norms and more on individual mental health. It could
also promote an apreciation for all human cultures by encouraging
the adoption or at least experimental adoption of foreign rituals,
myths or ceremonies to supply what the patient is lacking.
This may be far fetched- it could even be dangerous- but it is
one of my ideas for clinical anthropology.

R. Ambrose