Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Symptomatology of minor psychiatric morbidity: a crosscultural comparison

Tai Ann Chenga1 c1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

Abstract

The basic symptoms of minor psychiatric morbidity (MPM) reported elsewhere were also found in a community survey in Taiwan. However, differences in the patterns of and manifestations of the symptoms were evident. Contrary to most Western surveys, the prevalence of anxiety (24·7 %) was found to be higher than that of depression (8·3 %) in Taiwan. Possible explanations based on sociocultural characteristics of the Chinese family were proposed. The notion of somatization as a predominant symptom in Chinese neurotic patients advocated by some research workers was not supported in this study. As a result of findings in community cases, it is argued that the importance of somatization has been considerably overemphasized as a factor in the illness behaviour of neurotic cases in Chinese and other cultures, and it is therefore not a culturespecific disease phenomenon. It is also suggested that certain culture-specific neurotic syndromes reported in Chinese, such as shen-ching-shuai-jo (neurasthenia) and shen-k'uei (semen loss syndrome), are clinically equivalent to MPM. Implications of the present findings on crosscultural research and management of MPM were discussed.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Tai Ann Cheng, Department of Psychiatry, National Taiwan University Hospital No. 1, Chang-Te Street. Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.

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