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Culture and Social Adjustment

Some cultural norms seem to interfere with the meeting of basic human needs. During our Great Depression of the 1930 s we recognized that there was something very wrong when adults were idle and children were hungry while work-went undone and food rotted in the fields. The norms of the culture may cultivate certain feelings, such as guilt, personal unworthiness, or sexual inhibitions to a degree which any modem psychologist would judge as physically and mentally unhealthy. As seen in Chapter 4 the Dobermans emphasis upon witchcraft made people fearful, anxious, and distrustful of others A culture may include no comfortable place for certain categories of persons. Thus, widows in certain  parts of India, were expected to perish in their husbands' funeral pyres, while, until recently, most unmarried women in America were more or less welcome members of some relative's household. Some cultural norms may be elaborated to the point of impracticality. It is said that Marie Antoinette was unable to get a glass of cold water; court etiquette required it to pass  through 50 many hands that it was always tepid by the time it reached her. Rivers [1922] tells how on Torres Island in Melanesia, canoe  building was surrounded with such an elaborate set of magical rites and taboos that only. a small group of hereditary canoe builders dared to try to build one. Others were familiar with the manual skills for canoe building, but since they lacked the secret magic, it was unthinkable that they should build the craft. Therefore, when the hereditary canoe-builder families died out, the Torres Islanders went without canoes despite their desperate need for them. Thus in almost any culture, one can find norms which seem useless or harmful
If this deliberate frustration seems stupid to the reader, let him or her try to explain why the United States and the Soviet Union continue building nuclear warheads when they already have enough to incinerate the entire world several times over or why we have unemployment when there is much useful work waiting to be done?

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