Culture shock refers to the emotional drain that one goes through when he is exposed to a different cultural background than his own. This could happen when one is in a mission in another country. The emotional drain is characterized by feeling of disorientation, indecisiveness coupled with being uncertain over what to expect. Sometimes an individual seems to be overwhelmed by the challenges they find in the field, not because the problems are new but because the anxiety overwhelming them cannot allow them to think rationally (Leeder, & Mooney, 2001). The adjusting process is usually coupled with many problems and different confusing emotions. When an individual experiences a different cultural set-up, different from what he is used to at home, he is bound to feel helpless at times. They seem to evaluate everything they do or sometimes they feel frustrated and do not want to try solving some of the issues facing them. Medical practitioner refers to the condition as clinical shock.
The condition is associated with a mental disease that inhibits an individual’s focus and thinking abilities. This state of the mind makes him think that the problem at hand is bigger than what he can handle and that he does not have the necessary capabilities to solve the problem. The condition is characterized by several phases. The first phase is called the honeymoon phase where an individual compares the two cultures and becomes exited to want to try new things that are better or different from what he is used to. In this stage, he is keen to learn and make new discoveries of his new environment. As he progresses in his new environment, he begins to have trouble adapting to different feeding habits or way of life and it is no longer an exciting process any more. The second phase is called the frustration stage. In this stage, an individual starts realizing that the differences between the two cultures are so wide (Pedersen, 1995). This stage is characterized with anger and frustration as they continue to encounter situations that become impossible to them. The final stage is called the adjustment phase or the understanding stage. This is where the individual becomes accustomed to his new environment and he becomes fully integrated into its mechanism. Individuals who may not be able to go through the phases successfully become disoriented and others may turn to drugs and other forms of abuses to vent their frustrations. The lack of emotional equilibrium to handle the situation causes hypersensitivity to some people, which causes irritability to some individuals. These individuals, in most cases have no idea of what is happening and will not be in a position to find a solution to the problem.
“Crossing the line”
The video “Crossing the Line”, is a story of two young Australians who went to another country in an eight-week placement in “Mornington Island in North-West Queensland.” The idealist and energetic students had plenty of ideas and problem-solving techniques they planned to use to solve problems. However, on arrival they are met with different situations than what they expect and became very frustrated. With the charm gone, they have to find ways of surviving in this part of the world while trying to find solution to the community’s problems. The island presents health conditions, which have not been attended to in a long time and other life threatening issues that they almost want to give up. The environment does not get better with time and before long, they meet people who question their intelligence because they questioned members of the community without the presence of health official.
The community leaders treat them harshly and question their ability to make change in the lives of the people. The emotional unbalance surrounding them, makes Amy evaluate her life and her faith, which gives her even more psychological torture. Medically, this can lead to stress related torture that makes them be at their edge always if uncontrolled, it causes one to be easily irritable and experiences nightmares during the night. Some people in this condition will not eat or be apart of anything. The experience is not fun and exiting any more now. Their worry is if they will be able to attend to their own personal problem and before they can get a grip of their emotions, they are called back to Australia. The students have no opportunity to say goodbye to a home they had considered their own and before they could solve all their medical problems, they are called back to their home country. The health implications for people who cannot be able to control their emotions are very frustrating even to other people surrounding the victims. They lower their self-esteem and lower their adaptation rate such that the whole team becomes unproductive.
Such victims will experience withdrawal symptoms and difficulty in blending in. They become abusive easily irritable and will vent their anger on anyone who crosses their way. The most advanced group experiences nightmares and dream of things that are inexistence. In the first phase, the students are exited to leave for another country and they have a series of ideas of what they want to solve in the country. This is the first phase, called the honeymoon phase. In this phase, the two students are ahead of themselves with excitement of going to a new environment. The circumstances they meet change their perception and the way they see life and their attempts to bring to the community is met with harsh response. They are now in the phase of negotiation phase and have realized that their culture is so different from their foreign country. At this point if they had it their way, they would have left. For individuals who may be unable to control emotional outburst they are likely to have many problems in this phase (Leeder & Mooney, 2001).
Some people may develop stress related illnesses if they are in control of their emotions. The last phase is the adjustment phase. In this phase, the individual is well acquainted with their environment. They are actually struggling to keep the professional boundary between them, which is proving problematic because of the prevailing circumstances. In this phase, Amy had the chance to blend in the community and re-evaluate her beliefs and her faith. She identifies with people and seems to mourn their losses with them. Paul on the other hand, wants to help everyone at the same time, which is impossible. He wants to help people who want to commit suicide and be a hero to all their problems. This frustrates him and he gets into trouble with the authority of the community.
Culture shock affects everyone because there is always a first time to everyone. It presents individuals with situations that their values applicable in their country becomes irrelevant. The new culture also becomes hard and almost choking to accept. I particularly want to believe that at this point, if one is a quitter, he will easily give up and move on. Everyone will always experience cultural shock, what matters is the degree of variation. Most individuals’ who experience the symptoms must refuse to accept and deal with them for example some people will turn to other anti-depressants that might have serious implications on their health. In my opinion, it helps to remind oneself that change is good but it should not control ones values.
Staying on top of situations helps one to see problems for what they are. The health implications for people who cannot be able to control their emotions are very frustrating even to other people surrounding the victim they lower their self-esteem and lower their adaptation rate such that the whole team becomes unproductive. Such victims will experience withdrawal symptoms and difficulty in blending in. They become abusive easily irritable and will vent their anger on mostly anyone who crosses their way (Ward, et al, 2001). The most advanced group experiences nightmares and dream of things that are in existent. As a health professional, I have come to understand that a cultural shock does not only occur to people who travel to foreign countries but to people who move from one organization to another in their working environment and refuse to let go or to adapt to their new environment . Such people should not blame the new environment for their misery but themselves for rejecting life adaptive skills to face such situations in life. I have realized if people were not that conscious of themselves and allowed life to flow, as it should, then we would have fewer problems in the world.
One should be conscious of stages as they settle in and be able to let each stage pass gracefully. People should use those lessons to prepare themselves for the next experiences in life. They should also realize that a simple mistake of that nature keeps the team in low spirit because the team wants to identify with them. However, one should also not forget that individualism is what defines a person and should work to maintain that. One should also be keen to learn new things and not forget what they know already because such a situation creates confusion that can lead to mental health crisis (Ward, et al, 2001). There is no perfection in the world and in our humanly nature, we will always be prone to resist change but since in some circumstances it is inevitable, we should own it and preach it. We should also position our minds to consider frustration as a stepping-stone to better opportunities. I would advise anyone in such a situation to keep a journal so that he can have an opportunity to reflect on the progress of each phase.
Furnham, A. & Bochner, S., 1986. Culture Shock: Psychological Reactions to Unfamiliar Environments. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Leeder, R & Mooney, H., 2005. Crossing the Line. The Medical Journal of Australia.
Pedersen, P., 1995. The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents Around the World. Westport: Greenwood Press.
Ward, A., Bochner, S. & Furnham, A., 2001. The Psychology of Culture Shock. New York, NY: Routledge.