Anorexia: The female identity from holy mysticism to the new social feminine mystique – Original Paper I. Testoni, A. Zamperini, M. Cemin 106 – 123 In recent times, the word “meaning” has become increasingly popular as times of uncertainty and chaos awaken in society a need for affirmation of its values and beliefs. This article attempts to extend scientific existential psychology by revealing the vitality and creativity of experimental social psychology in terms of existentialism. It presents the results of studies carried out using Analysis of Lexical Correspondence (ACL) on letters of mystics of the past (Caterina Benincasa, Simone Weil) who are today considered to have been anorexic, and contemporary women who suffer from anorexia nervosa. Considering anorexia as a Culture Bound Syndrome (CBS), the research is part of the perspective of cultural social psychology and cultural psychiatry, and thus analyses the relationship between the culture of the epoch to which the writings belong and the ultimate ends for which the choice of fasting was made by the authors. Specific attention is given to the self-representation of these women, in light of the meaning of the sacrifice offered by them as a function of health-salvation, socially interpreted as an expression of “mysticism”. This theme brings us to consider the evolution of the female role in Western history as well as the significance attributed to the body.
Evaluation of the disease in subjects belonging to different culture – Original Paper M. Dibenedetto, A. Bovero, G. Arescaldino 124 – 131 The scope of this study is to evaluate how much the belonging culture can influence the psychic and emotional background in subjects affected by total post-traumatic spinal cord injury. The study was carried out in Structure Complex Spinal Unit (S.C. USU) of Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure (SV), Italy, using a sample consisting of 10 Italian people and 10 non European citizens. The whole sample has had a complete diagnosis of post-traumatic spinal cord lesion (ASIA impairment scale A) and a psychiatric diagnosis in conformity with the standards of DSM-IV TR. All the people have been treated with a pharmacological and psycological treatment. The sample has been evaluated using Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HAD), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Clinical Global Impressions (CGI), SF-36 Health Survey (SF-36) and Brief Cope, both at the visit of recruitment and after 4 months from the introduction in the study. The comparison among the data obtained by these scales points out a significant reduction of the state of anxiety and depression in the two examined groups, particularly, in that belonging to Italian culture, suggesting that this group could have had a more effective chance to adapt to and face the “new” condition of life. The study, then, emphasizes how much the belonging culture can influence both the adaptability to the new state and the expressivity of the symptoms.
Lay concepts of psychosis in Busoga, Eastern Uganda: A pilot study – Original Paper C. Abbo, E. Okello, S. Ekblad, P. Waako, S. Musisi 132 – 145 Introduction: Biomedically based interventions are the officially accepted form of health care for psychosis in most African countries. However, many people who present psychotic symptoms use traditional healing services. Understanding how lay people view psychosis is important not only for epidemiological research but also for understanding health-seeking behaviour. Objective: To explore and describe lay concepts of psychosis among the Basoga. Method: A qualitative study using Focus Group Discussions and case vignette techniques. Four focus group discussions were held; two for traditional healers and two for the general community, totalling 31 participants. Results: The Basoga differentiated schizophrenia from mania and psychotic depression, giving names for each disorder and describing the symptomatology and natural course. Schizophrenia (eddalu or ilalu) was viewed as a more serious illness, with the possibility of not recovering, mania (kazoole), as less serious mental illness, with normality between episodes. Psychotic depression was seen as illness caused by too much thinking. Clan/family/cultural issues were mentioned as causing schizophrenia and psychotic depression, while physical causes and a failed relationship with God were mentioned for mania. Other causes were witchcraft, genetics and substance misuse. Choice of care depended on what was believed to be the cause of the psychotic symptoms. Conclusion: These findings provide insight into Basoga lay concepts of psychosis and will be used in the main study to modify the Western instruments, thereby making them more culturally sensitive, applying an emic and etic approach.