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Diversity, inside and out

In recent years, cultural competence with regards to diversity has come to the foreground of the social discourse in general and in mental health services in particular.  It is important to remember that cultural diversity does not necessarily mean only differences associated with ethnicity, religion, wealth, level of education and other aspects of socially-constructed identity.

Some people who appear to belong and to be “like” others in their ethnocultural group, may nonetheless experience a subjective sense of their personhood as very different from those around them. Cultural competence, as the sensitivity to various life experiences, value systems, beliefs about the world and one’s place in it and the nature of one’s relational expectancies, needs to be re-defined and refined to include the ways people define themselves from within their own subjective experience.

A very powerful and illuminating example of the subjective experience of someone who appears to belong yet experiences himself as very different is to be found in the blog  “Living among humans” ( I highly recommend following this unusually articulate insight to the world of individuals on the Autism and Asperger’s spectrum.

Irit Felsen

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