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Thomas Stompe, Psychiatric University Clinic Vienna Währinger Gürtel 18–20 A-1090 Vienna Austria,
Alexander Friedmann, Psychiatric University Clinic Vienna Währinger Gürtel 18–20 A-1090 Vienna Austria
Although overlapping, the two chapters on schizophrenia (and its relationship with culture) in this volume are complementary. Stompe and Friedman also start from an epidemiological perspective but shift their focus to rates of subtypes of schizophrenia in different cultures. It is interesting to note that rates of paranoid schizophrenia vary twofold and catatonic schizophrenia was observed more commonly in low income countries. Developing the theme of symptoms and contents of delusions, they point out that religious delusions and delusional guilt are more common in Christian societies in comparison with Hindu and Muslim societies. Significant variations in the frequencies and contents of hallucinations also indicate that contents of abnormal beliefs and experiences are very strongly coloured by cultural values. Their emphasis on descriptions within the epidemiological data indicates that, in order to understand culture–symptom interaction and presentation, clinicians need to explore personal beliefs in the context of culture.
The phenomenology of what we nowadays call schizophrenia has been recognized in almost all cultures. The first systematic descriptions of this disease can be found since the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1899 Kraepelin combined different clinical pictures, characterized by early age of onset and a chronic and deteriorating course, under the term dementia praecox (Kraepelin, 1899). To emphasize the occurring cognitive impairment and the concept of the splitting of psychic processes, Eugen Bleuler introduced the term schizophrenia (Bleuler, 1911).
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