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20. Meredith F. Small, Anthropology

Meredith Small
Small Book

Meredith Small

The Culture of Our Discontent: Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness (Joseph Henry Press, 2006). Looking at social, evolutionary, cross-cultural, and nutritional influences, the author examines mental illnesses like depression and anxiety—conditions that appear in different forms and for different reasons according to culture, rather than biology. Many consider the Western medical model of mental health incomplete. Small finds a more workable solution to mental problems than the medical model by rethinking assumptions and questioning standard treatment programs. Stepping outside the current disease model reveals new ways to understand, treat, and accept negative mental conditions. Westerners turn quickly to physicians seeking pharmaceutical solutions when unhappy or mentally discomfited. We expect brain chemistry to be at the root of any mental malady, forgetting the interwoven relationship between the biology of the brain and the environment in which we think, feel, and react. Small holds that by stepping outside the traditional Western model to explore alternative perspectives and by examining culture itself rather than focusing on biology, we can fully understand the nature of our discontent.

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