The Article that Debunked Ethan Watters’s Theory of Americanization of PTSD
Posted on March 26th, 2015

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.

Ethan Watters – the author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche points out that Western mental illness is both itself culture-bound and that persuading people to believe in Western-style mental illness can affect the way that psychic disorders manifest.

According to Pols (2010) Watters’s book aims to demonstrate how, regrettably, over the last twenty years or so, typically American conceptions of mental illness have been exported successfully to the rest of the world. Watters indicates that the often enthusiastic international reception of DSM-III and IV with its standardized descriptions of typical American forms of mental anguish, has homogenized human suffering all over the world.

In his book Watters examines the impact of a tsunami of mental health workers that descended upon Sri Lanka after the earthquake-generated tsunami of Boxing Day 2004.  Accounts of this type of international disaster response, at least as they appear in Western media, have a heroic quality. The wealthy West pitches in with its superior knowledge and mental health resources to lift disaster survivors out of their misery – often while holding the society’s “untrained providers” at bay (Pols, 2010)

Commenting on a case study from Sri Lanka Ethan Watters points out that the effort to relieve the trauma of the inhabitants of Sri Lanka after the tsunami. The descriptions of NGOs falling over each other and investing significant resources in turf wars are familiar by now. The conclusion that construction materials were needed more urgently than trauma counsellors can come as no surprise. Nevertheless, Watters judges the influence of these counsellors to be relatively benign—ending his chapter with the bemused smiles of young children drawing and painting, not having the faintest idea of what the art therapist who gave the material to them was up to (Pols, 2010).

There can be certain truth behind Ethan Watters claim. However regarding Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Ethan Watters could be wrong. According to Watters PTSD which has been identified and popularized in the United States   now appear to be spreading across cultural boundaries and around the world with the speed of contagious diseases. Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunge has nullified Ethan Watters’s theory regarding PTSD and indicated that PTSD like psycho traumas existed in the ancient Sri Lanka and it was known to the ancient healers. To substantiate his theory Dr. Jayatunge has written an article titled Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – A Malady Shared by East and West that was published by the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas which is an open source research organization of the U.S. Army.

Please Read Dr Jayatunge’s article: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/Collaboration/international/Sri%20Lanka/PTSD.pdf

One Response to “The Article that Debunked Ethan Watters’s Theory of Americanization of PTSD”

  1. Christie Says:

    Namaste: We subjects of the Indian Empire suffer from nonviolent aggression and oppression. Symptoms are the fighting among ourselves. killing our own people, high rates of homicide, suicide, criminal activity , hate, jealousy and greed among ourselves. The suffering is worse than from violent actions but the victims looks happy and will disappear slowly from the earth. Jai Hind

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