mental illness, which can be defined in several different ways depending upon their classification. Classification refers to identifying subtypes and categories of mental disorders. These categories are identified by particular signs and symptoms. The process of assigning a label to a mental disorder based on the signs and symptoms is referred to as diagnosis. (Ronald, 1999, p8.7)
Cultural perspectives in Britain indicate that it is often misunderstood that Black people have something that looks like 'schizophrenia' but isn't. Studies have indeed suggested that Afro-Caribbean 'schizophrenics' have a shorter illness with a better outcome. This has led to the proposition that what is often mistaken for schizophrenia among Afro-Caribbeans is actually an acute psychotic reaction that is, madness brought on as a psychological reaction to unpleasant life events (Lewis et al. 1990).
This approach to explaining high rates of psychosis among Afro-Caribbeans involves, thereby, admitting that social events can cause the types of behaviour which psychiatrists call 'psychosis'. This is what is so adamantly denied by the medical model. Nevertheless, this psychiatric anathema is deployed when it comes to explaining why so many Black people go, or are labelled, as 'mad'. Another explanation for all these diagnostic errors is that professionals don't understand what is normal and abnormal in other cultures. This is probably true. This approach, however, suspends another basic tenet of the medical model: that 'schizophrenia' is a biogenetic illness and has nothing to do with breaking cultural norms. What is being suggested is that what is considered 'insane' for White people may be 'normal' for Black people. This can come dangerously close to suggesting that 'Black culture' is not just difficult to understand but actually breeds 'mental illness'. The collective version of the selective migration theory blamed the cultures of the countries of origin for the high rates of 'schizophrenia'. (Bentall et al, 2004, p. 173)
Schizophrenia has been recognised for over 100 years as a form of severe mental illness, which starts as a mild mental disorder in late adolescence or early adulthood. Extensive biological research searching for a unique diagnostic marker has failed to yield a means of diagnosing the illness from a medical test. Accordingly, clinicians remain wholly dependent on the observation of clinical symptom clusters to diagnose the disorder. Since schizophrenia may represent a complex syndrome with diverse etiological bases and disorder outcomes, the identification of specific symptom clusters is vital in the understanding of the nature of the disorder. (Csernansky, 2002, p. 29)
According to DSM-IV, for a person to be diagnosed with Schizophrenia, they must show two or more of the following symptoms: 1) Delusions, 2) Hallucinations, 3) Disorganised speech, 4) grossly disorganised behaviour, 5) negative symptoms such as flat mood, lack of motivation. In addition, the person must show a decrease in his/her usual functioning. (Rapee, 2001,