Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia

Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia is a six-part series of ethnographic films on severe mental illness in Indonesia, based on material drawn from 12 years of person-centered research by writer/anthropologist Robert Lemelson. The series, which follows six individuals of different ages and backgrounds, explores the relationship between culture, mental illness, and first-person experience.

The films may be purchased individually, as a complete series, or in two sets organized by theme:

Volume 1: Psychotic Disorders

  • Shadows & Illuminations explores how non-normative mental events and behavior can be understood or interpreted in multiple ways outside the confines of Western psychiatric diagnostics (35 minutes, 2010)
  • Memory of My Face illustrates how the residues of colonialism and the pervasive influence of globalization affect the subjective experience of mental illness (22 minutes, 2011)
  • Ritual Burdens questions how communal spiritual obligations may be folded into personal schemas of stress to trigger episodes of mental illness (25 minutes, 2011)

Volume 2: Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • The Bird Dancer focuses on the social stigma of neuropsychiatric disorder and the human suffering it entails (40 minutes, 2010)
  • Family Victim examines bi-directional influences between an individual considered to have a disruptive or troublesome personality (38 minutes, 2010)
  • Kites and Monsters  follows a young Balinese from boyhood to manhood, discovering the influential and protective aspects of culture that may guide developmental neuropsychiatric processes (22 minutes, 2011)