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Buddhist Mind and Matter
Religions 2014, 5(2), 444-458; doi:10.3390/rel5020444
Article

From Sadness to Madness: Tibetan Perspectives on the Causation and Treatment of Psychiatric Illness

Received: 9 April 2014 / Revised: 7 May 2014 / Accepted: 8 May 2014 / Published: 15 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Science and Religion: Buddhist and Hindu Perspectives)
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Abstract

Buddhist-derived “mindfulness” practices are currently enjoying popularity amongst both the lay population and health professionals in the West, especially in the treatment of psychiatric conditions such as depression. This popularity leads to questions regarding how people in diverse Buddhist communities might conceptualise psychiatric illness and healing. This paper explores perspectives on psychiatric illness within a Tibetan Buddhist community in North India, focusing on the role of “emotions” in causation and treatment which was frequently discussed by informants. Comparisons between biomedical perspectives on emotional “disturbance” as a symptom of psychiatric illness and Tibetan conceptions of emotions as causal or contributory factors in a number of psychiatric illnesses are discussed. Three case studies are described to illustrate some of these common perspectives, examine how they are reflected in health-seeking behavior, and consider comparisons between the two systems.
Keywords: Tibet; psychiatry; madness; Buddhism Tibet; psychiatry; madness; Buddhism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Deane, S. From Sadness to Madness: Tibetan Perspectives on the Causation and Treatment of Psychiatric Illness. Religions 2014, 5, 444-458.

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