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In this paper, we discuss the intricate relationship between culture and mental illness. Our central position is that there cannot be mental illness without culture. We argue that our limited knowledge to the onset, manifestation, course and outcome of mental illness is due in part to the cross-cultural psychological conceptualization of culture, where culture is seen as an independent variable influencing mental illness, the dependent variable. This is in addition to the limitations of the biomedical model in accounting for the origins of mental illness. Using depression and schizophrenia as examples, we argue for the need to see culture and mental illness as mutually embedded in each other.

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