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Cultural Perspectives on Mental Wellbeing

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Table of Contents

Foreword. Preface. Part 1: Introduction. 1. Consensual Reality, Spirituality and Religion. 2. Culture, Nationality and Ethnicity. 3. Cultural Beliefs about Health and Illness. 4. The Human Body. 5. Beliefs about Conception and Human Identity. 6. Women's Bodies and Human Behaviour. 7. Cultural U-turns and Changing Responses to Consensus. Part 2: 8. Cultural Knowledge on Death and Dying. 9. Cultural Beliefs about Survival Beyond Death. 10. Anomalous Experiences: A. Religious and Spiritual Experiences. 11. Anomalous Experiences: B. NDE, OBE, ELE. 12. Anomalous Experiences: C. Cultural Interpretations of Mental Health. 13. Anomalous Experiences: D. Popular Uprising and Spiritual Awakening. 14. Anomalous Experiences: E. Deliberate Shifts in Consciousness. 15. Why Address Cultural Understandings and Academic Fixity?. 16. Acknowledging Dissonance as a Way Forward. 17. Towards Positive Change. Bibliography.

Promotional Information

Essential resource explaining different cultural attitudes towards mental and physical health

About the Author

Natalie Tobert, PhD, is a medical anthropologist who has done original research in India, Sudan and the UK. She has been leading workshops and training on different cultural understandings of health for the past twenty years. Natalie lives in London.


In seventeen neat chapters, each helpfully introduced and then summarised for clarity, the author tackles pertinent subjects including 'cultural beliefs about health and illness', 'beliefs about conception and human identity', 'women's bodies and human behaviour', and 'cultural knowledge on death and dying'. This is a worthwhile book, making an ideal companion to two College publications: 'Spirituality and Psychiatry' (Cook et al, 2009) and 'Spirituality and Narrative in Psychiatric Practice' (Cook et al, 2016). Members of the Spirituality and Psychiatry SIG will certainly find it rewarding. Others might find it surprisingly beneficial, both accessible and enlightening, too. -- Larry Culliford * British Journal of Psychiatry * Dr. Tobert brings many arguments and data to highlight the transient way humans accept knowledge, set laws, and then change their minds about what is 'correct'. She notes a gap between the perspectives of physicians and their patients: what is normal in one geographical location is not normal in another. A shift is needed - towards a more culturally universal paradigm. The author argues for the need to address questions of spirituality and religion, materialistic and spiritual perspectives and their importance for health. The book contains chapters on death and dying and shows how various experiences, among them near-death and end-of-life experiences, can radically cause a shift in worldview. This is a thoughtful medical anthropology book that takes a penetrative look at the variability of human views of life. -- Erlendur Haraldsson, author of At the Hour of Death This is an important study highlighting the human and philosophical inadequacy of scientific and medical materialism, which is taken for granted when educating young scientists and doctors. This consensus leads to the categorisation of many human experiences as anomalous in terms of this limited if powerful understanding. When one questions and puts aside the assumption that consciousness is produced by the brain, many of the experiences discussed by Natalie become explicable and point towards a wider and deeper scientific and medical outlook, which has been the mission of the Scientific and Medical Network for over 40 years. I would encourage all health professionals to read this book with an open mind. -- David Lorimer, Programme Director, Scientific and Medical Network Western medical science is in the midst of a massive re-evaluation of the nature of consciousness and how it manifests in the lives of humans. A key aspect of this movement is the role of spirituality in mental and physical health, and how these effects vary in different cultures. Natalie Tobert's Cultural Perspectives on Mental Wellbeing is a brilliant foray into this domain. This excellent treatise will be talked about for years to come by professionals and laypersons alike. -- Larry Dossey, MD, author of ONE MIND: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters

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