Global Mental Health & Cultural Psychiatry

Global Mental Health & Cultural Psychiatry

The 2nd Santander Lecture

Masters of Cultural Psychiatry in Latin America

Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine on 25th April, 2013

Professor Sergio Villasenor-Bayardo gave an outstanding second lecture showing how cultural psychiatry evolved as a discipline in the Latin American countries due in part to the many indigenous and immigrant groups living in close proximity, and the contrasting cultural influences in neighbouring countries. The relationship between Latin American countries, and the emerging psychodynamic and psychiatric sciences in France, Germany, England, USA in the 1900’s demonstrated similarities and contrasts. Previous leaders in Latin American countries proposed an approach to their practice that encompassed humanitarian and philosophical perspectives, and considered empathy, the arts, creativity, and the environment as relevant determinants of health and wellbeing and as powerful building blocks of cultural psychiatry. A phenomenology of schizophrenia was presented that, although unfamiliar outside of Latin America, provided a vivid and perceptive description of the internal world and dilemmas faced by people developing a persistent psychosis, specifically exploring how perplexity and withdrawal from the world replaces curiosity and wonder. The lecture included incisive observations and scientific breakthroughs from leading figures in Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Chile, and Bolivia. Yet these contributions are little known given the geographical and linguistic distance that has to be negotiated for wider dissemination. The lecture was a testament to the vision of the Santander awards to bring scholars together with a mutual sharing of knowledge; in this instance the ambitions are to improve public mental health and wellbeing throughout the world. A Latin American organisation, the Latin American Group of Transcultural Studies or GLADET, was founded in 1951 with similar objectives. An anthology of writings published by GLADET and edited by edited by Professor Villasenor-Bayardo is being translated into English in order to share these profound insights into mental health, mental illness and culture with the rest of the world. This also is being supported by Santander.

This was the second lecture of three. The first lecture on an epidemic of a culture bound syndrome was given on 17th April. The third lecture will be given on 8th May, 2.00pm in the Wolfon Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Contact Lisa Kass on psychiatry@qmul.ac.uk if you would like to attend. We thank Santander, Careif (www.careif.org), CCS (www.culturalconsultation.org) and QMUL for their generous support for the event.

Prof. Kamaldeep Bhui MD FRCPsych

President World Association of Cultural Psychiatry

Public Health Lead, Royal College of Psychiatrists

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