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Some aspects of mental illness among recent immigrant Chinese : a comparative case study of Chinese male patients, immigrant and Canadian-born, hospitalized at Provincial Mental Hospital and Crease Clinic, B.C., 1950-1960 Lee, Jung Ok

Abstract

Thus study seeks a contribution to the understanding of the problems of immigrant Chinese by comparing them with Canadian-born Chinese. It is almost impossible to understand the ways and customs of the Chinese without some insight into their culture. But to understand the adjustment problems of this minority group, their cultural background must be discussed in comparison with the North American culture. The study is focussed upon a small group, both immigrant and Canadian-born, whose failure to "make good" in Canada is signalized by their admission to a mental hospital. For case-study, eighteen immigrant Chinese patients and a comparative group of nine Canadian-born Chinese patients were selected. Data was obtained from clinical files recorded by doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and other members of the treatment team. A rating scale was devised to help assess the major factors in adjustment to life, subdivided into (a) personality constituents, (b) social factors, and (c) economic factors; this is then used to examine and compare the social functioning of each group. To substantiate the findings and to present a clearer picture of the causal factors, three illustrative cases are presented in detail - one Canadian-born Chinese, and two immigrant Chinese patients, in the ratio of the number studied. Each case is appraised in the same three areas: personality constituents, social factors, economic factors. Continually unsatisfactory employment and the barriers to communication created by cultural confusion show up among the factors at work. Problems of communication, social integration and cultural conflict are brought into clearer light as correlatives of mental illness, and the significance of these findings is appraised.

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