Culture-specific delusions. Sense and nonsense in cultural context

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1995 Jun;18(2):281-301.


It can be said that a definition of delusions requires the invocation of cultural understandings, standards of acceptability, as well as conceptions of reality and the forces that animate it. For these reasons, the determination of delusional or normative ideation can only be effected properly within particular cultural contexts. The cross-cultural record suggests that it is difficult to separate the delusional from the cultural; a belief that is patterened and culturally specific is, by definition a cultural, not a delusional belief. One must rely upon particular, relevant local cultural understandings to ascertain when the bounds of culture have been transgressed and meaning has given way to unshareable nonsense.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Delusions / diagnosis
  • Delusions / ethnology*
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Ethnopsychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magic
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Reality Testing
  • Religion and Psychology