Society for East Asian Anthropology
Society for Psychological Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
Mental health in contemporary China is becoming a growing industry, gaining both official, commercial as well as the general public’s attention. With growing concerns about people’s well-being, how do people from different age groups experience the transition in the production of knowledge in the “psy” sciences? Is this blooming industry help to optimize people’s well-being and enrich the access for people deal with mental illness? Or does it “medicalize” problems with a social or historical origin and targeting on the individual instead? Channeling it down to a cross-generational perspective on the understanding and intervention of mental health problems, I intend to discuss how individuals contemplate about their struggles as they going through psychologically challenging periods. How people with various access to knowledge and treatment about mental health and how does that influence their decision-making process when it comes to recognize and dealing with mental health problems. This provides a good opportunity not only to discuss the illness experience those people went through and also reveals how they deal with the body-psyche relationship, their interaction with the cultural system, and how they contextualize their illness experience in their life course. Their exploration of the changes brought by the body and “heart” (a more appropriate translation than Mind in the Chinese context) reveals more than treatment of disease and alleviation of symptoms, but rather heightened conflict between the individual’s idiosyncratic interpretation of lived experience and the social roles provided by their cultural niche.