Rapid Sociocultural Change, Child-Rearing Crisis, and Children’s Mental Health

  • Kang-E. Michael HongEmail author


This article presents clinical observations and epidemiological empirical studies on the impacts of rapid sociocultural change on children’s mental health in developing Asian countries. In addition, psychopathogenic mechanisms and processes and implications on the mental health of children are formulated and discussed from developmental, psychopathological, ecological, and ethological perspectives. Rapid modernization and “Westernization” have occurred in many Asian societies and brought about many benefits; however, this has been accompanied by large increases of mental health problems. The author suggests that one of the most critical pathogenic factors could be the rapidity and extensiveness of change rather than the change itself. This compressed form of modernization occurred within the span of only 40–50 years in most Asian countries, while it was accomplished gradually over 200–300 years in Western countries. The important mediating pathogenic processes are the breakdown of the traditional value orientation, a marked change of the family system from extended to nuclear, a weakening of major emotional support networks, and serious problems and crises in child-rearing practices. The new tides of globalization and the coexistence of multi-culturalism in most Asian countries will increase these risks. The critical importance of proper early child rearing and the quality of mother–infant attachment are emphasized for the future mental health of children in globalized world. The author advocates the need for new guidelines and paradigms to bring up mentally healthy children in this complex, ever changing world. A solution may be found in integrating the old and the new as well as integrating the East and the West.


Rapid social changes Children’s mental health Child-rearing crisis Developing countries in Asia 


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor Emeritus, Department of NeuropsychiatrySeoul National University Bundang HospitalBundang-gu, Seongnam-siKorea

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