Abstract

Culture is widely thought to influence the form, content, and extent of symptoms experienced and expressed by the mentally ill. However, little is known about how specific cultural groups differ in their symptomatic presentation of mental illness. Using data derived from the Present State Exam, the current study compared 63 Anglo-American and 53 Mexican-American patients with schizophrenia on ten psychiatric symptoms. A series of logistic regressions offered several interesting findings. For instance, as hypothesized, Mexican-American patients were more likely to report physical symptoms than their Anglo-American counterparts. Also in line with expectations, Anglo-American patients reported experiencing a greater frequency of several psychiatric symptoms such as persecutory delusions, nervous tension, and blunted affect. Results from this study suggest that the presentation of even a very biologically determined disorder such as schizophrenia can be shaped by sociocultural factors. Specific aspects of Anglo-American and Latino cultures that may influence symptom patterns in patients suffering from schizophrenia are discussed.