3×5: Culture, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry Weekly Roundup (June 12)

What’s new for week of 2–9 June 2012


1. Jens Seeberg in 6/11/12 Medical Anthropology Quarterly: “Connecting Pills and People: An Ethnography of the Pharmaceutical Nexus in Odisha, India.”

2. Good review of a good book about the sensitivity of our diagnostic systems to cultural factors, Jonathan Metzl’s The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease (Beacon Press, 2009).

3. Research by Yina Ma and Shihui Han (who is coming to our next conference) is featured in “Christians Find It Harder than Atheists to Recognize their Own Faces.”

4. This is a reminder that the Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry, which is hosted by McGill’s Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, will take place July 5–7, 2012. The theme is: “Global Mental Health: Bridging the Perspectives of Cultural Psychiatry and Public Health.”

5. Wonderful Emily Martin 3/15/12 lecture at Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (Berkeley), “Steps Toward an Anthropology of the Human Subject in Experimental Psychology,” which begins by describing the rich, entwined history of psych/anthro field expeditions:  “The expedition scientists assumed that the social and cultural environment determined the way the mind perceived the world. (That’s pretty radical. . . . Eighteen-ninety-eight.)  They also assumed that after immersion in the daily life of villagers . . . they could serve as appropriate experimental subjects, comparable to the native inhabitants.”


1. Rule, Freeman, and Ambady’s June 2012 review, “Culture in Social Neuroscience: A Review” published in Social Neuroscience

2. Latest from PNAS (June 5, 2012): Archie, Altmann, and Alberts in 6/5/12 PNAS: “Social Status Predicts Wound Healing in Wild Baboons.”

3. . . . And Crews et al. using a systems biology approach: “Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Altered Stress Responses.”i

4. Przyrembel, Smallwood, Pauen, and Singer’s 6/7/12 review “Illuminating the Dark Matter of Social Neurocience: Considering the Problem of Social Interacrtion from Philosophical, Psychological, and Neuroscientific Perspectives” in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. “This analysis draws attention to the need for paradigms that allow two individuals to interact in a spontaneous and natural manner and to adapt their behaviour and cognitions in a response contingent fashion . . .”

5. See Patrick McGowan commentary and Labonte, Yerko, Gross, Mechawar, Meaney, Szyf, and Turecki study on epigenetics, suicide, and history of child abuse in July issue of Biological Psychiatry.


1. Howard Markel’s 6/5/12 opinion piece, “The DSM Gets Addiction Right,” in the New York Times.

2. Jeremy Holmes, former chair of the Faculty of Psychotherapy, Royal College of Psychiatrists in BJ Psych on “Psychodynamic Psychiatry’s Green Shoots.”  One example the author discusses is the Scandinavian “needs adapted” approach to schizophrenia, whereby “ the uniqueness of each patient is recognised, medication kept to a minimum, the family dynamics around psychosis charted, and a long-term one-to-one relationship with a key-worker seen as vital to improvement.” See also Alanen et al., Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Schizophrenia Psychosis: Past, Present and Future (Routledge, 2009).

3. Hmm, may have mentioned this one in a previous post, but this is an interesting read if you like history of psychiatry: “Between phenomenological and Community Psychiatry: The Comprehending Anthropology of Jürg Zutt” by Peter Schöonknecht and Tom Dening in June 2012 issue of History of Psychiatry. Speaking in 1957 on the topic of anthropological psychiatry, Zutt said:

It is something relatively new in psychiatry. One may assume that we consider psychosis as psychogenic disorders, and that we do not consider anatomical and physiological causation. This is a misunderstanding … Anatomy and physiology remain two major basics of psychiatry. But we think that the phenomena traditional psychiatry cannot understand in logical terms have to be considered by using other approaches.

4. Last week I reported on the One Mind for Research annual meeting, here’s a link to a background article on the group by Matthew Herper for Forbes: “A Father’s Battle to Change the Future of Brain Research.”

5. Another must-read by Gregory Miller and Steve Cole: “Clustering of Depression and Inflammation in Adolescents Previously Exposed to Childhood Adversity” in July issue of Biological Psychiatry.

This entry was posted in challenges of interdisciplinary research by Constance A. Cummings. Bookmark the permalink.

About Constance A. Cummings

Constance A. Cummings, PhD, is Project Director of the non-profit Foundation for Psychocultural Research, which supports and advances interdisciplinary research and scholarship at the intersection of brain, mind, culture, and mental health and illness. She is co-editor (with Carol Worthman, Paul Plotsky, and Dan Schechter) of Formative Experiences: The Interaction of Caregiving, Culture, and Developmental Psychobiology (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and (with Laurence Kirmayer and Rob Lemelson) the forthcoming Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience, and Global Mental Health (Cambridge, 2015). She received her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from New York University.

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