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crazy like us

September 6, 2012

Has anyone read Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, by Ethan Watters? An art therapist colleague recommended it, as we talked about how to do therapy across cultures, without imposing ideas from our own culture which may be unhelpful or destructive to other cultures.

A 2010 review was entitled, Making the rest of the world crazy. Watters apparently travelled the world, looking at effects of North American-style therapy. My colleague was struck by the example of foreign helpers after a natural disaster, insisting that children must have PTSD, without recognising or supporting the resilience in local practices.

The fact that the author has written previously about so-called “false memory syndrome” makes me uneasy, but I am hungry for help in seeing the biases in my own education as a therapist, and willing to take a look at Crazy Like Us. I think that some BSN nursing programmes are doing a better job than my MA therapist education did, at developing students’ relational practice, and “finding the join”* where they can meet another person in a way that meets both their professional responsibility and the person’s wishes and values.

*Doane and Varcoe’s Family Nursing as Relational Inquiry is an excellent text for students or experienced nurses, using a variety of lenses to look at health care encounters.

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