Self Deception

Defining Mental Health

Many Western groups advocate viewing mental health issues from a medical model. Providers of mental health services and advocates for the mentally ill use this medical model with the intention of reducing the stigma placed on the individual diagnosed with the mental illness. Yet, consider the startling finding that, “those who adopted the biomedical and genetic beliefs about mental illness were most often those who wanted less contact with the mentally ill or thought of them as dangerous and unpredictable” (Watters, 2010, p. 173). Western conceptualization of mental health and illness has spread across the globe and impacted how individuals are treated. For example, cultures may have initially been more tolerant of these behaviors due to factors such as externalized locus of control, beliefs in traditional healing, spiritual beliefs, and less expressed emotion. (Watters, 2010)

In the essay, please follow the structure as below:

1. Your definitions of good mental health and poor mental health.

2. Imagine if you grow up in China, explain two ways Chinese culture may influences your definitions of mental health.

3. How your definition of mental health might differ if you grow up in American culture.

4. Finally, describe a behavior that is considered normal in Chinese culture but would be considered abnormal in American culture.


  • Course Text: The Handbook of Culture and Psychology
    • Chapter 14, “Abnormal Psychology and Culture”
    • Chapter 15, “Clinical Psychology and Culture”
  • Article: Auerbach, R. P., Abela, J. Z., Xiongzhao, Z., & Shuqiao, Y. (2010). Understanding the role of coping in the development of depressive symptoms: Symptom specificity, gender differences, and cross-cultural applicability. British Journal of Clinical Psychology49(4), 547–561.
  • Article: Herrman, H, Saxena, S., & Moodie, R. (Eds.). (2005). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice.
  • Article: Nastasi, B. K., Varjas, K., Sarkar, S., & Jayasena, A. (1998). Participatory model of mental health programming: Lessons learned from work in a developing country. School Psychology Review27(2), 260–276.
  • Article: Sue, S. (2002). Asian American mental health: What we know and what we don’t know. In W. J. Lonner, D. L. Dinnel, S. A. Hayes, & D. N. Sattler (Eds.), Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 3, Chapter 4).
  • Article: Triandis, H. C. (2011). Culture and self-deception: a theoretical perspective. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal39(1), 3–13.

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