Studying Mental Illness in Context: Local, Global, or Universal?



What are the social and cultural/actors that influence the course and outcome of serious mental illness? What are the basic processes that influence the diagnosis and assessment of persons suffering such illness, and how do we accountfor higher levels of misdiagnosis among members of ethnic minorities in the United States? A review of the current status of these two major research questions illustrates characteristics of current research and the importance of ethnographic studies for advancing our understanding of basic processes.