A cura di @Billy Pilgrim.
Con un lungo articolo sul Guardian, Tina Rosberg ripercorre il lungo lavoro di Vikram Patel, uno psichiatra indiano che, partito da premesse opposte, si è ritrovato a sfatare il falso mito che la depressione sarebbe principalmente un problema dei paesi occidentali e ricchi.
Patel began his work by holding focus-group interviews with traditional healers and others who cared for patients with mental illness, and then by interviewing patients. He asked them what mental illness was, what caused it, and how to treat it. The most common illness had a name: kufungisisa, a word in Shona, the local language, which means excessive worry about a problem. Many of the healers said kufungisisa was not an illness, but a reaction to the stresses of life, such as poverty or illness. Aha! Patel thought. It was as he expected: in Zimbabwe, mental suffering was being caused by social injustice.
But when Patel asked patients how kufungisisa felt, the answers were familiar. No matter what they called it, no matter what they held to be the reason or the cure, they cited hopelessness, exhaustion, inability to confront their problems and a lack of interest in life – classic signs of depression. “They were identifying the same symptoms as people I would treat in a clinic in south London,” Patel said.
Far from exposing depression as a uniquely western phenomenon, Patel’s research in Zimbabwe led him to conclude that depression is a fundamental human experience. “The basic nature of emotional pain is no different than physical pain,” he said. “The way they seek help may be different, but human beings feel it in the same way.”
Immagine da Wikimedia.