"Child psychiatry has unwittingly contributed to reifying children's mental health," the author explains, and this situation is creating "mental distress" (Timimi, 2009, p. 5). An example of the changes in society due to "aggressive free market global economic systems" is a 14-year-old girl in London who has been behaving in a bizarre way, the author explains. She is from the Indian culture and her parents have arrived in England from the Indian subcontinent. The girl laughs at times that don't seem appropriate and she has not been interacting with her peers; she seems preoccupied so "an urgent psychiatric assessment is arranged" (Timimi, p. 6).
The psychiatrist who studies her concludes that she is suffering from a psychotic illness and he recommends she be sent to a psychiatric unit for treatment including "antipsychotic medications." However, her parents believe that their daughter is not sick at all but "suffering the manifestations of a spiritual problem"; in short they believe she is "possessed by evil spirits" (Timimi, p. 6). She doesn't need drugs, her parents insist, but what she needs is consultation with a local priest. Timimi asks if either side in this conundrum provide "objective evidence to support its case?" And do situations like this offer new opportunities for professionals to learn "new ways of working with…communities considered culturally inferior?" (p. 6). There are no easy answers to these questions but the truth is that when distinctive cultures move to other parts of the world and interact with cultures that are completely different in terms of the beliefs of the initial culture -- a product of globalization -- there are inevitably going to be conflicts.
Timimi argues that these are ethical issues related to globalization and there is "much to be concerned about with regard to children's mental health" (p. 8). The bottom line is that members of any culture have their own "working definition of childhood, its nature, limitations and duration" -- and the values, beliefs of one culture are bound to come into some kind of conflict when those values are transplanted into another culture as part of globalization. Timimi does not offer solutions but by focusing on this emerging global problem needs to be understood as the world becomes smaller and cultures interact.
Globalization as spoiler: Christopher Kelen writes in the journal Critical Arts about how globalization is ruining the peaceful tranquility of a once-remote East Asian city called Macao, formerly a Portuguese territory now claimed by China. Kelen lives on an island in Macao called Taipa and once it had "everything: beach and mountain, town and bush, road, railway, port and airport." And nearby it was a dense jungle." But today due to globalization just crossing the road one risks life and limb; and moreover where once there were long stretches of quiet pastoral landscape there are now "a lot of bricks and mortar" and 40-story buildings build on "reclaimed land" (Kelen, p. 285). The crux of the problems for Kelen is that globalization has brought "civilization" to his island home, and with it traffic, congestion, and visitors who have no understanding of the local culture. If this dynamic is ruining the ambience of other pristine places around the world then local political and cultural leaders must resist those unwelcome changes.
The International Monetary Fund's take on globalization: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) asserts that "substantial evidence" indicates that as countries participate in globalization "their citizens benefit" (www.imf.org). Citizens benefit because they have access to a greater variety of goods and services, "lower prices," "improved health," higher paying jobs and "higher overall living standards," according to the IMF. That said, the IMF goes on to admit that while poverty fell in East and South Asia it "actually rose in sub-Saharan Africa." Glossy reviews of globalization notwithstanding, it is up to each individual nation and its people to protect their culture and their way of life. It may be true that there are many advantages to globalization, but it is also true that some companies do not all have enlightened social policies. The trend is certainly global, but alert citizens and governments can choose what to accept and what to reject about globalization.
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