Moroccans: at higher risk of schizophrenia?

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Dutch of Moroccan descent are more likely to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, according to psychiatrist Tekleh Zandi who got her PhD at the University of Amsterdam this week. Dutch of Moroccan descent would not seem to be at a greater risk of schizophrenia if their cultural background would be taken into account, as evidenced by the graduate study.

Moroccans in the Netherlands are 4 to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than indigenous Dutch, according to de Volkskrant. Moroccans are more likely to check off questions about hearing voices, one of the symptoms of schizophrenia. However, further questioning reveals the context in which they "hear voices" is different, according to Zandi. 'People hear reprimands from their father or they think aloud; sometimes they hear evil spirits, an accepted occurrence in the Berber culture,' said Zandi. The researcher put together a more "culturally sensitive" questionnaire to come to a better diagnosis of the test subjects. Because of the composition of the group, 26 Moroccans and 37 indigenous Dutch, no hard conclusion can be drawn from the study. However 'the results do raise serious doubts about the common notion that schizophrenia is 4 to 5 times more likely among Dutch from Moroccan descent,' said Tekleh Zandi.