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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development


Although schizophrenia has the same essential cognitive basis in all people, the content of the hallucinations and delusions of patients varies significantly across the world. Schizophrenia is a culture-bound illness, which means that a difference in culture can influence how it manifests. Western societies tend to view schizophrenia symptoms as a medical issue, while Eastern societies treat it as a spiritual or supernatural phenomenon. Vietnam has many specific cultural factors rooted in collectivism and Confucian and Buddhism traditions that make sufferers of schizophrenia present drastically different symptoms than patients from Western societies. The role of family, ancestor veneration, traditional healing, and stigma all have a paramount role in Vietnamese culture. The present study found that those hallmarks of Vietnamese society contribute considerably to how hallucinations and delusions manifest in Vietnamese patients. Patients here are likely to believe an ancestor is haunting them for a family’s past shame, or will have a visual hallucination of the Buddha. The strong family unit and the stigma of psychiatry in Vietnam also wield a powerful influence over the content of the patients’ delusions and hallucinations.


Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health


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