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Gabe, S. (1948). The Concept of Culture and the Psychosomatic Approach: Margaret Mead. Psychiatry X, 1947, pp. 57–76.. Psychoanal Q., 17:132-133.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Concept of Culture and the Psychosomatic Approach: Margaret Mead. Psychiatry X, 1947, pp. 57–76.

(1948). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 17:132-133

The Concept of Culture and the Psychosomatic Approach: Margaret Mead. Psychiatry X, 1947, pp. 57–76.

S. Gabe

Mead asserts that psychoanalytic theory has failed to recognize the rôle of culture in the production of psychosomatic disease. The physician has always regarded the particular type of cultural molding that he sees about him as human nature, but it is essential to recognize that man's biological potentialities can only be inferred from observing the effects on human beings of many kinds of cultural pressures. A culture selects certain biological potentialities for elaboration while ignoring or even suppressing others. During the process of socialization a certain pattern of behavior is built into the developing organism which has a determining influence on structure and functioning. It is this process which produces the character structure typical for a given culture. Every human being is so profoundly molded by his culture that even the most basic life processes are subjected to systematic patterning. Everyone pays a definite psychosomatic toll for adjustment. Hence, in every culture, even the most homogeneous, are to be found consistent slight pathologies and systematic somatic modifications. In individuals with greater constitutional vulnerability, or those subjected to unusually severe stresses, there is to be expected an aggravation of the consistent pathology. In heterogeneous cultures, the greater prevalence of persistent character strain or psychic conflicts may result in an exuberance of somatic expressions. Also during periods of rapid cultural change when the usual cultural means of reducing personality tensions have been swept aside, these tensions are exacerbated. In all these circumstances, the individual is forced to work out his psychic conflicts on his own body, or his immediate environment—especially his family and children.

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The proper recognition of the cultural factor has profound significance for preventive medicine because cultural forms might be developed to ease somatic strain.

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Article Citation

Gabe, S. (1948). The Concept of Culture and the Psychosomatic Approach. Psychoanal. Q., 17:132-133

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