Cross-cultural variations in experiences of depression in Iran and the UK : a phenomenological investigation

Mirdamadi, Moujan and Cooper, Rachel and Todd, Cain (2019) Cross-cultural variations in experiences of depression in Iran and the UK : a phenomenological investigation. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis is an investigation into cultural variations in experiences of depression. With the aid of empirical data, and with a phenomenological outlook, the arguments presented in this work aim to give a comparative account of the significance of culture in shaping cross-cultural variations, as seen in Iran and the UK. Despite the existence of a large body of literature on cross-cultural variations in depression, a close examination of the ways in which culture shapes these variations has been mostly lacking. In this work, viewing experiences of depression as necessarily situated and embedded within a phenomenologically significant sociocultural context, I offer a way of understanding these dynamics and mechanisms. I situate different aspects of the experiences and narratives of depression, as seen in Iran, within the broader sociocultural context and the dominant discourse around depression. As such, I show the way in which these different elements form a network of meaning-making, understanding, and interpretation, that can be seen to underlie some of the variations in expressions and experiences of depression, as seen in Iran and the UK. I examine different elements in experience of depression and symptom reports, including somatic symptoms, metaphors in narratives, emotional difficulties, and disturbances to one’s normal way of being in the world, against the backdrop of culture within which these experiences and expressions find meaning. I therefore offer a way of understanding experiences as inherently bound with culture and cultural narratives. This positioning of culture at the centre of the investigation of experiences of depression, I argue, has important consequences for psychiatric thought and practice, as well as for phenomenological investigations, both of which have tended to offer presumptively universal criteria and accounts, without paying sufficient attention to cultural differences.

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Thesis (PhD)
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29 Jul 2019 11:35
Last Modified:
17 Feb 2024 00:23