Attitudes towards mentally ill people and willingness to employ them in Arab society

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Despite the considerable advancement of empirical knowledge in the area of mental health and mental illness, there is a serious lack of research on the topic from the perspective of Arab societies. This study examines whether traditional Arab societies such as Arab-Islamic society tend to reject mentally ill people, where willingness to employ a mentally ill person was chosen as a specific manifestation of such rejection. The research sample consisted of 262 potential employers in East Jerusalem, all of whom were Muslim men. On the whole, the findings support the research hypotheses, that as traditionalism increases there is a concomitant rise in the tendency to view mental illness as the result of an inadequate relationship with God, as a divine punishment and as an expression of divine will (fatalism). It was also found that these three tendencies exacerbate negative attitudes towards and rejection of the mentally ill, which in turn reduces the extent to which potential employers are willing to hire mentally ill people. However, the results reveal that rejection of the mentally ill is an inherent aspect of attitudes towards them, and not necessarily connected with traditionalism. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for the reintegration of the mentally ill into Arab society.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)173-193
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Arab society
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Mental health
  • Mentally ill people


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