Tue January 19, 2010
"Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On this edition of our show, we speak with Ethan Watters, an author and freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Discover, Men's Journal, Spin, Details, and Wired. (His earlier books include "Making Monsters" and "Urban Tribes.") Watters now has a timely and compelling --- and often quite alarming --- new book out; it's called "Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche." The book has been summarized as follows in the pages of Publishers Weekly: "If you thought McDonald's and strip malls were the ugliest of America's cultural exports, think again. Western ideas about mental illness --- from anorexia to post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, general anxiety, and clinical depression --- as well as Western treatments have been sweeping the globe with alarming speed, argues journalist Watters, and are doing far more damage than Big Macs and The Gap. In this well-traveled, deeply reported book, Watters takes readers from Hong Kong to Zanzibar, to Tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka, to illustrate how distinctly American psychological disorders have played in far-off locales, and how Western treatments, from experimental, unproven drugs to talk therapy, have clashed with local customs, understandings, and religions. . . . Watters builds a powerful case. He argues convincingly that cultural differences belie any sort of western template for diagnosing and treating mental illness, and that the rapid spread of American culture threatens our very understanding of the human mind."