Cultural Themes in the Psychotic Symptoms of African American Psychiatric Patients

Arthur L. Whaley, Brittany N. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Professional psychologists need to recognize ethnic/racial differences between African Americans and European Americans in psychotic symptom expression to treat individuals with severe mental illness from various cultural backgrounds. Specifically, they need to understand confluent paranoia or the interaction between culture and pathology in psychotic symptom expression. To assist mental health professionals, the present study identified cultural themes in the delusions and hallucinations of a sample of 156 African American psychiatric patients via content analysis. Race-related themes and religious themes were observed in the psychotic symptoms of these patients assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM IV. Race-related and religious content were manifested in different types of delusions. Race-related themes were more common in persecutory delusions, whereas religious themes occurred more often in other delusions. Race-related themes were associated more with delusions, while religious themes correlated with both delusions and hallucinations. Implications for the treatment of confluent paranoia in African Americans are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • content analysis
  • culture
  • delusions
  • hallucinations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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