Hierarchical Needs and Psychological Disorders in China

  • Hongying Fan
  • Wei WangEmail author


The significance of culture involved in psychological (psychiatric or mental) disorders has been recognized by psychiatrists, psychologists, socialists, and other related scholars in recent years. Previous research have shown that patients with psychological disorders displayed much clinical or epidemiological uniqueness in the context of Chinese culture. However, there are less systematic and specific literature illustrating the link between the Chinese culture and psychological disorders. The earlier research on both Chinese and overseas populations especially the westerners, also tell us that some important and distinctive elements of Chinese culture, such as drinking, attitude towards sex, moral rules, social ideal in the harmonious circumstances, social hierarchy, classic propriety and protocol, past-time orientation, traditionalism, indigenous religions such as the Daoism (道, also called Taoism), and others (see Chapter “ Societal Culture from Late Imperial to Contemporary China: As Indirectly Reflected in A Dream of Red Mansions”), play a major role in the link. There are of course much evidence showing that culture is closely related to the mental health. In this chapter however, we will deliberately review the influential elements of Chinese culture, basing on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, to present a picture of the relationship between culture and psychological world in both traditional and contemporary China. With the population floatation and economic communication, Chinese culture has expanded its influence to almost every corners of the world, which enlarges its theoretical and practical significance. Thus, the historical and contemporary records might provide prevention and treatment hints for psychological disorders from the root of culture, for patients all over the world. As the collective programming of the human mind, culture carries the history of population from the ancient to the contemporary society. Therefore, studying the features of Chinese culture in the late imperial and the contemporary China would provide a developmental picture of its influence. In this sense, starting from an excellent literature carrier of Chinese culture, such as the novel, A Dream of Red Mansions, would be an excellent concept (see Chapter “ Societal Culture from Late Imperial to Contemporary China: As Indirectly Reflected in A Dream of Red Mansions”).


Chinese culture Cultural psychiatry Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory Psychological disorder Working hypothesis 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry/School of Public HealthZhejiang University College of MedicineHangzhouChina

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