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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2005 September;46(3):221-8


language: Italian

Outlines of transcultural psychiatry

Munno D., Sterpone S., Malfatto A., Zullo G.


Transcultural psychiatry, from different standpoints, from sociology to clinical ethno-psychiatry, tries to compare mental disorders in various societies and cultures, studying differences between the incidence of mental diseases in different cultures, pointing out the specificity of diseases and the variability in clinical signs. Recent immigration phenomena pose problems of reception and management of psychiatric discomforts in these ethnic groups, with difficulty in making a proper diagnosis and establishing a therapy. The handling of psychotherapies is difficult because of the kind of users, who often belong to the lowest classes, because of the theoretical-clinical models of analytic psychotherapies, which focus on individual more than on social problems, and also because of communication difficulty. Particu-larly, transcultural psychotherapy could be used both as an integrator filter, which helps the acculturation process of ethnic minorities facing non pathologic psychological-social hardships, and as a therapeutic intervention intended to rehabilitate minorities with psychiatric disorders, after a counseling intervention. Transcultural pharmacotherapy poses the problem of the choice of drugs, because of genetic racial variability, with the presence of slow or fast metabolizers characterized by different forms of p450 cytochrome and of different plasmatic binding proteins, which cause the appearance of unexpected or more severe side effects and varied responses. This branch of psychiatry is particularly fertile from both cultural and clinical standpoint.

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