I think Ethan Watters's book Crazy Like Us might one good answer to this dilemma. (Full disclosure: Mr. Watters sent the authors of this blog a couple copies of the book to look at - thanks!). Mr. Watters summarizes his incredible research very effectively and accessibly (longest reference section I've seen in QUITE a while - he was VERY careful in his scholarship). Each of the sections of the book looks at the "spread" of a diagnostic model/paradigm into a specific culture, including:
- Anorexia in Hong Kong
- PTSD in Sri Lanka
- Schizophrenia in Zanzibar
- Depression in Japan
A blog post is far too short to discuss the ideas/issues raised in this book, all of which could be used to start great discussions in your classroom. I encourage you to get the book and take a look. I expect you'll be as intrigued, surprised, saddened, and reflective as the book made me.
Other notes: students might enjoy Ethan Watters appearance on the Daily Show and his publisher's website has other related resources.
posted by Rob McEntarffer