Local Perceptions

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Schödwell, Steffen—Challenges for Myanmar Health Care Professionals in the Treatment of Depressive Symptoms

With a brief additional survey on Theravāda Buddhist Mental Health Concepts from Thomas Bruhn
In Myanmar Buddhist and traditional healing methods are still widely applied to various kinds of diseases and conditions. Help from the ‘Western’ biomedical health care system is often sought in case of more severe conditions. Based on his anthropological research on depression in Taiwan Kleinman (1982) described potential conflicts, dissatisfaction and lack of compliance when the health care professionals neglect their patients’ explanatory models. Depressive disorders are found to be a rising burden on individual health as well as social groups worldwide. The aim of this study was thus to find out how professionals from the Myanmar biomedical system experience the interaction with depressed patients based on their conceptualization of this disorder. Six Problem-centered interviews were conducted and analyzed using grounded theory methodology. Concerning the perspective of the professionals, three ways of understanding of depression have been found: (1) depression as contaminated mind, (2) depression as a consequence of stress and (3) depression as a psychiatric disease. Each includes a bias for different treatment strategies. Concerning the patients’ perspective, the professionals mentioned somatic, religious as well as supernatural explanatory models. The professionals’ understanding of depression influences how they evaluate their patients’ self-help and help-seeking behavior – in general as well as in the particular treatment situation. The results suggest that by treating depression as a psychiatric disease professionals risk to neglect both the needs and resources of Myanmar patients.

Steffen Schödwell, Theresa Steinhäuser & Anna Auckenthaler
Freie Universität Berlin, AB Klinische Psychologe & Psychotherapie

Kleinman, A. (1982). Neurasthenia and depression: A study of somatization and culture in China, Culture,
Medicine and Psychiatry, 6(2), 117-190.

Khin Nyein San—Human Perceptions on their Own Impacts on the Biodiversity by Living Inside the Protected Area in Natmataung National Park, Myanmar

Protected areas (PAs) are aimed to maintain or restore the balance in nature. PAs are also an important indicator in measuring the biodiversity loss caused by humans. Global biodiversity is under the long term threats all over the world and we need to understand the behavior of human, ourselves which is challenging the conservation of biodiversity. PAs are usually located in the most remote regions of the countries where people living close to the PAs have poor social status. Local people in Myanmar are being prohibited from using resources inside PAs, which cause conflict in the management of such PAs. Biodiversity of Natma Taung National Park (NTNP) is threatened by people living inside and outside of the park. The study aims to learn more about human impacts on biodiversity in a PA in relation to their location and how perceptions of people living inside and outside of the PA vary in relation to their own impacts on the sustainable use of biodiversity inside the PA. A total of 203 participants from 11 villages (5 from inside and 6 from outside of NTNP) were conducted with personal face to face interview. The questionnaire was constructed with three main parts (1) demographic information, (2) benefits obtained from NTNP and (3) perceptions about NTNP. Logging, hunting, fuelwood collection and other impacts (disturbance and resource scarcity) are the impacts described by the participants. Both inside and outside people know that they have impacts on the biodiversity of NTNP.  One third of the participants from outside of NTNP did not know that human have any impacts on the biodiversity. Fulfilling basic needs and cooperation with local people are suggested by participants for the effective conservation of NTNP. Park and people relationships need to be improved for the long term sustainability of NTNP.


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