Toward applied neuroanthropology

Annals of Anthropological Practice

Neely Myers, visiting assistant professor in anthropology and international affairs at GW, published an article in the Annals of Anthropological Practice in a special Issue on Neuroanthropology and Its Applications.
Volume 36, Issue 1, pages 113–130, 2012

Here is an abstract of her article:

Psychotic disorders emerge from the interplay between culture, brains, and experience. Understanding psychotic disorders and intervening effectively to prevent them or alleviate their effects requires a rich understanding of all three, which may best be captured by the transdisciplinary methods and theory of an applied neuroanthropology. Neuroanthropology investigates the ways that cultural context interacts with vulnerable people’s brains to both encourage and inhibit the neurodevelopmental processes that lead to a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. Culturally grounded investigations enable us to investigate the ways a person’s lived experiences perpetuate neural changes in the brain that may shape the onset and course of psychotic disorders. This article presents an ethnographic case study of a young man diagnosed with a psychotic disorder after spending 80 days in solitary confinement. Building on his narrative, this article explores his development of a psychotic disorder from an ethnographic and neuroscience perspective. Future transdisciplinary, neuroanthropological studies could rigorously investigate issues that his narrative highlights, including the seemingly inhumane use of solitary confinement and the paucity of meaning-making efforts in biomedical treatment for psychotic disorders. Applied neuroanthropological research on the interplay of culture, brains, and experience in psychotic disorders can contribute to clinical and policy recommendations that improve the lives of people diagnosed with a psychotic disorder around the globe in ways that are locally meaningful for them.

Several other articles are included in the special issue; for the table of contents, click here.

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