From The Guardian Letters: “As a teacher of psychiatry to medical students in Zimbabwe, I find Tina Rosenberg’s account of the work of Vikram Patel overly glossy (The long read: Busting the myth that depression doesn’t affect poor countries, 30 April). At issue is the globalisation of western psychiatry, for which Patel is a prominent salesman.
In claiming that a local idiom of distress – ‘thinking too much’ – is really depression, he is asserting the universalist supremacy of western frameworks and categories. This is indeed cultural hegemony, brushing aside non-western mentalities and understandings of distress. Moreover, a poverty-haunted Zimbabwe has enough problems of its own without the importation and promotion of ‘depression’, with its assumptions of mental pathology.”