Third, in-depth semi-structured interviews with 20 adults who claimed to be "depressed" identified the cultural and social factors affecting the experience of depression among Flathead people. All 20 interview respondents were solicited for the study because they described themselves as having suffered with depression, but they were solicited in varying ways.
Eleven respondents were recruited informally in private conversations at community events or social settings. Six of the respondents were longer-term acquaintances that agreed to be interviewed. The 3 elders who appear in the sample were invited to participate in the study during visits made to their homes.
While the sample was not randomly drawn, an effort was made to balance the sample in terms of age and gender during the period of research: the 10 men and 10 women in the sample ranged in age from 29 years to 79 years, with an average of 49 years and a median of 46 years. O'Nell, Theresa D. Telling about whites, talking about Indians: Oppression, resistance, and contemporary American Indian identity.
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All trademarks are registered property of the University. The root of confusion around this identity is the contradiction inherent in the concept of "Indian" itself. The principal contradiction derives from the image of "Indians" as static cultural entities an issue which O'Nell draws attention to who, in order to claim this identity, must live and dress like their ancestors of past centuries. Since "Indians" have not lived in a social and cultural vacuum in this country and the US government has made aggressive and concerted efforts to destroy indigenous culture, these individuals simply cannot live up to such a conception of what an "Indian" is.
A second contradiction is the lack of clarity as to whether "Indian" is a racial, ethnic, or cultural identity. This only adds to the confusion for individuals about the meaning of this identity. O'Nell correctly points out that the issue of "authenticity" for Flatheads and I would say, for Native Americans in general as "Indians" creates a state of insecurity regarding their feeling of "belonging," the condition of belonging being one which O'Nell asserts is critical for the Flathead people.
Disciplined Hearts: History, Identity, and Depression in an American Indian Community - ProQuest
Herein lies one of the problems with this book. O'Nell attempts to place Flathead "depressive-like affect" in the context of Flathead culture. Yet, because she does not provide comparative studies as at least a backdrop for her analysis of Flathead "depression," I found myself asking if and why the issues of identity and belonging were particularly unique to the Flatheads. In fact, there are considerable similarities between O'Nell's findings about the Flatheads and my findings about the Turtle Mountain Chippewa with respect to many issues, including cultural ones.
Honoring Health: Resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives
For example, the communal nature of the reservation society, the extended-kinship system, the value of caring for others and sharing among the community, are all qualities which I found among Turtle Mountain Chippewa. Beyond Native American groups, the reader is left wondering if much of what O'Nell concludes regarding Flathead depression is applicable to other groups, such as African Americans, particularly concerning the meaning and effects of racism for them.
Thus, it is the specificity with which she frames her analysis to the Flathead experience which is problematic, and which could have been remedied by offering at least some comparative research with other groups. There is one other problem with this study concerning methodology and data. O'Nell does not provide a schedule of the questions she asked her interviewees of which there were thirty-three , nor is there any detail on the specific characteristics of these individuals.
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In a footnote, the author claims that she made an "effort to achieve a balance" in terms of age and other characteristics for her sample, but adds that she makes no claims as to the "representativeness" of this sample. This qualification is troublesome given the fact that, throughout her book, O'Nell makes sweeping generalizations about the Flathead Reservation population concerning her research findings, presumably based on this sample.
Moreover, she often makes assertions about subjective Flathead feelings, for which she provides no evidence. The reader must therefore take on faith that O'Nell's attributions of certain thoughts and feelings to Flatheads are based on research evidence which is not presented. The lay reader may overlook this, but for a social scientist, it represents a critical flaw in the presentation of the research. There is a great deal of worthwhile information contained in O'Nell's book, and her study does shed light on some important issues concerning Native americans.
Additionally, her project is a sound one, in that she does question the universal application of psychological concepts developed in one culture to other cultures.
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