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Symptomatology of minor psychiatric morbidity: a crosscultural comparison

  • Tai Ann Cheng (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

The basic symptoms of minor psychiatric morbidity (MPM) reported elsewhere were also found in a community survey in Taiwan. However, differences in the patterns of and manifestations of the symptoms were evident. Contrary to most Western surveys, the prevalence of anxiety (24·7 %) was found to be higher than that of depression (8·3 %) in Taiwan. Possible explanations based on sociocultural characteristics of the Chinese family were proposed. The notion of somatization as a predominant symptom in Chinese neurotic patients advocated by some research workers was not supported in this study. As a result of findings in community cases, it is argued that the importance of somatization has been considerably overemphasized as a factor in the illness behaviour of neurotic cases in Chinese and other cultures, and it is therefore not a culturespecific disease phenomenon. It is also suggested that certain culture-specific neurotic syndromes reported in Chinese, such as shen-ching-shuai-jo (neurasthenia) and shen-k'uei (semen loss syndrome), are clinically equivalent to MPM. Implications of the present findings on crosscultural research and management of MPM were discussed.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr Tai Ann Cheng, Department of Psychiatry, National Taiwan University Hospital No. 1, Chang-Te Street. Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.
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