Janis H. Jenkins

Dr. Janis Hunter Jenkins is a psychological/medical anthropologist.  She received her Ph.D. from UCLA and post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School. She has taught on the faculty at Harvard University, Case Western Reserve University, and UC San Diego. At UC San Diego, Professor Jenkins is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Psychiatry.

Professor Jenkins is a leading scholar internationally within the field culture and mental health.  She is a permanent Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, where she was in residence during academic year 2011-2012.  She has also been named a Fellow by the earliest learned society of the United States, the American Philosophical Society (2004).  In 2002 she was Visiting Professor in the Department of Health and Human Sciences, Institute of Social Medicine, State University of Rio de Janeiro.  The Russell Sage Foundation appointed her as Visiting Scholar-in-Residence in New York City (1996-1997).  At the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Jenkins has been active as a Member of three different Scientific Review Groups (1993-2005).  Professor Jenkins has also been elected President of the Women’s Faculty Association (1991-1993) and appointed Director of Women’s Studies at Case Western Reserve University (1994-2000).  At Harvard Medical School, she was appointed Research Fellow, Instructor, and Head Preceptor in the Departments of Social Medicine, Anthropology, and Psychiatry from 1986-1990. 

From 1984-1986, she was on faculty at UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences as Assistant Research Anthropologist.  Most recently, she was awarded a Distinguished Visiting Faculty Fellowship at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia (summer 2013).

Dr. Jenkins is a member of the Editorial Boards for Medical Anthropology Quarterly, (Society for Medical Anthropology) and Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, for which she has also served as Co-Editor (1995-2000); she has also served a term on the Editorial Board of Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry: An International Journal of Cross-Cultural Comparative Research.  She has served as elected member and ex officio (as Co-Editor of Ethos) of the Board of Directors for the Society for Psychological Anthropology (1992-2000).

Dr. Jenkins is notable among anthropologists for a career having an ongoing research program as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator for a series of grants funded by National Institute for Mental Health (1986-2011).  In addition, the American Philosophical Association, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Department of Mental Health of the State of California have awarded her research funding.   As Principal Investigator, she conducted research from 1999-2004 on the “Subjective Experience of Atypical Antipsychotics and the Culture of Recovery” (National Institute of Mental Health Grant #R01 MH 60232:  $636,222); “Culture, Mental Health, and Recovery (American Philosophical Society 2004-2005: $60,000); "Socio-cultural Factors and Course of Persistent Mental Illness” (National Institute of Mental Health Grant #MH 47920: $525,953); and during from 1988-1990 “The Mental Health of Central American Refugees” funded by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression ($60,000).  She has also served as Principal Investigator and Mentor for research funded by the National Institute for Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, for pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and faculty research and training grants in the social and medical sciences.

As Co-Principal Investigator, she conducted research from 2006-2011 for a project entitled “Southwest Youth and the Experience of Psychiatric Treatment” (National Institute of Mental Health Grant #R01 MH071781: $2,306,130.00).   Data analysis for that study is ongoing.  She has also been Co-Principal Investigator and principal author of a grant to study Spanish-speaking Central American immigrants called "Therapeutic Family Interventions for Hispanic Families" (Department of Mental Health, State of California: $596,000).  Dr. Jenkins has also served as Co-Investigator for a host of other NIMH collaborative studies.

Professor Janis Jenkins is a member of the Psychological/Medical Anthropology subfield. Dr. Jenkins' principal interests are mental health and illness, and lived experience in global perspective, particularly in relation to the cultural shaping of self, emotion, gender, adolescence, migration, political violence, resilience, and psychopharmacology.   She has conducted ethnographic research in the Americas with Mexican immigrants, Salvadoran, Vietnamese, and Iraqi Kurdish refugees, Puerto Rican migrants, and other Spanish-speaking Latinos, as well as with Euro-American and Native American populations.   The sites of Professor Jenkins’ research include everyday settings such as homes, neighborhoods, clinics, and schools.

Current Research:   “Cultural Perceptions and Practices Surrounding Adolescent Mental Health in Northern Mexico,” Janis H. Jenkins, Ph.D., PI

In this study, our interdisciplinary team is currently collecting data to identify cultural conceptions of mental health and patterns of help-seeking in the northern Mexico region.  The research seeks an empirical understanding of contemporary knowledge and practices surrounding emotional distress and behaviors regarded as problematic.  Working with parents, teachers, and service providers, we are investigating (1) the conceptualization of wellbeing and the identification of problems of emotional/mental health; (2) decision-making for seeking services; and (3) the social-emotional features that contribute to vulnerability and resilience in processes of recovery.  That empirical data obtained will serve as the basis for interactive, community-designed interventions for adolescent health that are effective and sustainable over time. 

Dr. Jenkins' published works examine ordinary and extraordinary experiences that define what it means to be human across an array of social and cultural contexts. In her research, Professor Jenkins has addressed the enduring question of whether the normal and pathological are discontinuous categories or poles on a continuum, favoring an ontological approach that calls into question explicit and implicit categorical distinctions.  Dr. Jenkins has theorized and empirically examined the significant variation in the course and outcome of illness in relation to socio-emotional response of kin, cultural conceptions of illness, and the subjective experience of medicine and healing.  This research contributes to findings by the World Health Organization of better course and outcome for serious mental illnesses in less industrialized countries as compared to Europe and the United States.  Dr. Jenkins’ research team was the first to show that low-income Spanish-speaking first-generation Mexican immigrants to the United States had better course of illness than their Euro-American counterparts in relation to family social and emotional response.  While Mexican-American families typically viewed the problem as a common condition called nervios, from which everyone may suffer to a greater or lesser degree, and for which the cultural response incorporates sadness, warmth, and sympathy, low income, Euro-Americas more often regarded the problem as a personality deficit (e.g., ‘laziness’) about which kin often expressed anger and hostility.  These differing cultural conceptions and social responses significantly affect the course and outcome of illness.  This anthropological approach to mental health is important in showing not only cultural variation in the ways in which problems are conceived but also that such conceptions and associated emotional responses make substantial difference for who gets better and who does not.   Along these lines, Dr. Jenkins has theorized what is “inside the black box of ‘expressed emotion’” as researched within the field of cultural psychiatry - (see Jenkins & Karno 1992 - "The Meaning of Expressed Emotion: Theoretical Issues Raised by Cross-Cultural Research.", Special Article, American Journal of Psychiatry).

Dr. Jenkins has carried out ethnographic studies of violence and warfare and explored what she has termed the “political ethos” – defined as culturally organized feeling and sentiment pertaining to social domains of power and interest – of societies besieged by violence, terror, and torture. - (see " The State Construction of Affect: Political Ethos and Mental health among Salvadoran Refugees”) Culture, Medicine, Psychiatry 1991 These studies have been aimed at theorizing the nexus among the role of the nation-state in constructing a political ethos, discourses about affect, and cultural phenomenology and the mental health consequences of those who dwell in that ethos. Dr. Jenkins and her colleagues have identified culturally specific bodily transactions of emotions and embodiment of trauma such as the sensation of intense heat in the body - (see Jenkins & Valiente 1994 - "Bodily transactions of the passions: el calor among Salvadoran women refugees.).  Not only are such phenomena central to mind-body problems, they are also of clinical significance insofar as they may be misdiagnosed as, for example, menopause, psychosis, or high blood pressure.                                

As Co-Principal Investigator (along with Dr. Thomas Csordas) for an NIMH-funded (RO1 MH071781) study entitled “Southwest Youth and the Experience of Psychiatric Treatment” (SWYEPT), Dr. Jenkins has conducted collaborative research with an interdisciplinary team (anthropologists, psychiatrists, psychologists). The study examines psychological distress, cultural meaning/dissonance, and structural violence among adolescents who are placed in residential psychiatric treatment facilities. Also studied are a comparison group of adolescents, who according to research diagnostic criteria do not have symptoms of mental illness.  The study was carried out with a multiethnic population (Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Anglo/Euro-American) utilizing a research protocol that is longitudinal and spans a wide geographical area, following participants after hospital discharge into a range of social settings including other psychiatric facilities, kin-based homes, foster care homes, schools, and neighborhoods.  Methods of study combine ethnographic interviews and observations, psychiatric diagnostic interviews, informal and unstructured interactions over time and across a range of social settings.

The goal of the study is to produce anthropological knowledge of broad use to those concerned with culture and lived experience, social conflict, mental health services, and an informed public policy that affects the lives of youths through institutions of care, containment, or social abandonment.  The study is intended to shed empirical light on the often-neglected sites of poor American communities that are ravaged by the violence of poverty and the economic consequences of the Great Recession, institutional and familial neglect, gang activity and substance abuse. A major concern is to identify what strategies youths create to elude such circumstances and under what conditions they succumb to these circumstances. Institutional and everyday neoliberal discourse on “personal responsibility” is analyzed in a context of choosing short-term psychiatric facilities as preferable to incarceration in prisons/detention centers. The problem of uncontrollable rage, and what can at times appear as heroic familial struggles to “contain” such powerful affects, has emerged as a central problematic for the development of social, cultural, and political theorizing of youth culture and life worlds.

Professor Jenkins recently published a book:  Extraordinary Conditions: Culture and Experience in Mental Illness http://www.ucpress.edu/go/extraordinary

 In addition, she is working on a co-authored ethnographic monograph on adolescent mental health, entitled "Land of Enchantment: Youth Culture and Struggles for Sanity."


2015  Jenkins, Janis H.   Extraordinary Conditions: Culture and Experience in Mental Health.  University of California Press.

2011 Jenkins, Janis H. Introduction.(Pharmaceutical Self) and Chapter 1:Pharmaceutical Self and Imaginary in the Social Field of Psychiatric Treatment. InPharmaceutical Self: The Global Shaping of Experience in an Age of Psychopharmacology. School of Advanced Research Press; pgs. 3-16. & pgs. 17-40.

2004 Jenkins, Janis H. and Robert J. Barrett.Schizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity: The Edge of Experience. Janis H. Jenkins and Robert J. Barrett, Eds. Cambridge University Press

Primary Published

In Press Jenkins, Janis H. Anthropology and Psychiatry: A Contemporary Convergence for Global Mental Health. In Textbook of Cultural Psychiatry, Second Edition. Dinesh Bhugra and Kamaldeep Bhui, Eds. Cambridge University Press.

2017 Jenkins, Janis H., and Annika Stone. "Global Mental Health and Adolescent Anxiety: Kin, Care and Struggle in New Mexico." Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 1-21.

2017 Olga Olivas, Sol D'Urso, and Janis H. Jenkins. Adolescence and Global Mental Health: Cultural Perceptions of Emotional Wellbeing in Tijuana, Mexico. Neos 9(1): 5-7. Publication of the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group.

2017 Renaming Non-Communicable Diseases. Ellen E. Kozelka and Janis H. Jenkins. Correspondence, The Lancet 5:e655.

2017 Janis H. Jenkins and Ellen E. Kozelka. Global Mental Health and Psychopharmacology in Precarious Ecologies: Anthropological Considerations for Engagement and Efficacy. In The Palgrave Handbook of Sociocultural Perspectives on Global Mental Health. Ross White, Ursula Read, Sumeet Jain, David Orr, Eds. Palgrave Press. pgs. 151-168

2015 Jenkins, Janis H. “Tensión nerviosa psíquica y social: condiciones de vida y trauma entre jóvenes en Nuevo México.” In Cuerpo y corporalidades en las culturas de las Américas. Silvia Citro, José Bizerril y Yanina Mennelli (Eds), 1st Edition. Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires: Biblos. ISBN 978-987-691-298-3

2015  Jenkins, Janis H. Straining Psychic and Social Sinew: Trauma among Adolescent Psychiatric Patients in New Mexico.  Medical Anthropology Quarterly 29(1):42-60.

2015 Janis H. Jenkins and Bridget M. Haas. “Trauma in the Lifeworlds of Adolescents: Hard Luck and Trouble in the Land of Enchantment.” In Devon Hinton and Byron Good (Eds). Culture and PTSD. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 

2014 Frank Larøi, Tanya Luhrmann, Vaughan Bell, William A. Christian Jr., Smita Deshpande, Charles Fernyhough, Janis Jenkins, Angela Woods. (2014) “Culture and hallucinations: overview and future directions.” Schizophrenia Bulletin 40(4):S213-S220.

2014 Jenkins, Janis H. and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good.Women and global mental health:vulnerability and empowerment."InEssentials of Global Mental Health. Samuel O. Opakpu, Ed.Cambridge University Press.

2013    Jenkins, Janis H. Palpable Insecurity and Sen’s Comparative View of Justice:  Anthropological Considerations. Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy 16(2):266-283.  

2011 Sajatovic, M., J. Levin, E Fuentes-Casiano, K. Cassidy, C. Tatsuoka, and J. Jenkins. “Illness experience and reasons for non-adherence among individuals with bipolar disorder who are poorly adherent with medication.” Comprehensive Psychiatry 52:280-287.

2010 Kriegshauser, Kathryn, Martha Sajatovic, Janis H. Jenkins, Kristin A. Cassidy, David Muzina, Omar Fattal, Douglas Smith, Beth Singer. “Gender Differences in Subjective Experience and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder.” Journal Nervous and Mental Disease 198(5):370-371.

2010 Jenkins, J. H. “The State Construction of Affect: Political Ethos and Mental Health among Salvadoran Refugees.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 15:139-165. Reprint in A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities. Ed. B.Good, M. Frischer, S.Willen, and MJD Good, EDS. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, UK. pp143-159.

2009 Sajatovic, M., Jenkins, J. H., Cassidy, K. A., & Muzina, D. Medication treatment perceptions, concerns and expectations among depressed individuals with Type I Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 115(3), 360–366.

2009 Floersch, J., Townsend, L., Longhofer, J., Munson, M., Winbush, V., Kranke, D., Faber, R., Thomas, J., Jenkins, J.H., & Findling, R.Adolescent experience of psychotropic treatment.Transcultural Psychiatry, 46(1), 157-179.

2009 Lopez , S., J Ramirez, J. Ullman, A. Kopelowicz, J. Jenkins, N. Breitborde, P. Placenia. “Cultural Variability in the Manifestation of Expressed Emotion.” Family Process 48(2):179-194.

2009 Hollifield, M., T. Warner, B. Krakow, J.H. Jenkins, and J. Westermeyer.The Range of Symptoms in Refugees of War: The New Mexico Refugee Symptom Checklist-121.Journal Nervous and Mental Disease197:117-125.

2009 Jenkins, Janis H. and Elizabeth Carpenter-Song.Awareness of Stigma among Persons with Schizophrenia: Marking the Contexts of Lived Experience.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease197(7):520-529.

2008 Jenkins, Janis H. and Elizabeth Carpenter-Song.Stigma Despite Recovery: Strategies for Living in the Aftermath of Psychosis.Medical Anthropology Quarterly22(4):22(4):381-409.

2007 Vega, W.A, Karno, M., Alegría, M., Alvidrez, J., Bernal, G., Escamilla, M., Escobar, J., Guarnaccia, P., Jenkins, J.H., Kopelowicz, A., Lagomasino, I.T., Lewis-Fernandez, R., Marin, H., Lopez, S., Loue, S. “Research issues for improving treatment of U.S. Hispanics with persistent mental disorders.” Psychiatric Services 58(3):385-394.

2007 Sajatovic M, Jenkins JH. Is antipsychotic medication stigmatizing for people with mental illness? International Review of Psychiatry 19(2):107-12.

2008 Sajatovic M, Jenkins JH, Safavi R, West JA, Cassidy KA, Meyer WJ, Calabrese JR.Personal and societal construction of illness among individuals with rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder: A life-trajectory perspective.American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 16(9):718- 726.

2007 Jenkins, Janis H.Anthropology and Psychiatry: The Contemporary Convergence. In Textbook of Cultural Psychiatry. Bhugra, Dinesh and Kamaldeep Bhui., Editors. Cambridge University Press.

2008 Jenkins, Janis H., Hollifield, Michael A.Postcoloniality as the Aftermath of Terror between Vietnamese Refugees.InPostcolonial Disorders. Good, M.J.D, Hyde, S.T., Pinto, S., and B.J. Good, Eds. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

2006 Ramirez Garcia, Jorge, Chang, Christina, Young, Joshua, Lopez, Steven, Jenkins, J.H. “Family support predicts medication usage among Mexican American individuals with schizophrenia.” Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 41:624-631.

2007 Breitborde , Nicholas J. K., López, Steven R., Wickens, Thomas D., Jenkins, J.H. Karno, Marvin. “Toward Specifying the Nature of the Relationship between Expressed Emotion and Schizophrenic Relapse: The Utility of Curvilinear Models.” International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 16(1):1-10.

2006 Hollifield, M.H., Warner T, Jenkins J., Sinclair-Lian N, Krakow B, Eckert V, Karadaghi P, Westermeyer J. “Assessing War Trauma in Refugees: Properties of the Comprehensive Trauma Inventory-104 (CTI-104).” J. Traumatic Stress: 19(4):527-540.

2005 Jenkins, Janis H. and Elizabeth Carpenter-Song.The New Paradigm of Recovery from Schizophrenia: Cultural Conundrums of Improvement without Cure.Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry29(4):379-413.

2005 Jenkins, J.H., Strauss, M.E., Carpenter, E., Miller, D., Floersch, J., Sajatovic, M.Subjective Experience of Recovery from Schizophrenia with Atypical Antipsychotic Medications.International Journal of Social Psychiatry51(3):211-227.

2005 Sajatovic, M., Davies, M., Bauer, M., McBride, L., Hays, R., Safavi, R., and J. Jenkins. “Attitudes regarding the collaborative practice model and treatment adherence among individuals with bipolar disorder.” Comprehensive Psychiatry 46:272-277.

2005 Hollifield, M.H., Eckert, V., Warner, T., Jenkins, J.H., Krakow, B., Ruiz, J., Westermeyer, J. “Development of an Inventory for Measuring War-Related Events in Refugees.” Comprehensive Psychiatry 46:67-80.

2005 Sajatovic M., Jenkins, J.H., Strauss, ME., Butt, ZA, Carpenter, E. “Gender identity and implications for recovery among men and women with schizophrenia.” Psychiatric Services 56:96-98.

2004 López, S. R., Nelson, K.A., Polo, A. J., Jenkins, J.H., Karno, M., Snyder, K. “Ethnicity, Expressed Emotion, Attributions and Course of Schizophrenia: Family Warmth Matters.” J. Abnormal Psychology: 113:428-439.

2004 Jenkins, Janis H.Schizophrenia as a Fundamental Human Process.InSchizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity: The Edge of Experience. J.H. Jenkins and R.J. Barrett, Eds. Cambridge University Press, pgs. 29-61.

2004 Jenkins, Janis H. and Robert J. Barrett.Introduction.InSchizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity: The Edge of Experience. Janis H. Jenkins and Robert J. Barrett, Eds. Cambridge University Press, pgs. 1-25.

2003 Longhofer, J., Floersch, J., and J. Jenkins. “Medication effect interpretation and the social grid of management.” Social Work in Mental Health 1(4), 71-89.

2003 Floersch, J., Longhofer, J., and J. Jenkins. “The social grid of community medication management.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73:24-34.

2002 Nasser, L., Walders, N., and J. H. Jenkins.The experience of schizophrenia: what's gender got to do with it? A critical review of the current status of research on schizophrenia.Schizophrenia Bulletin28:351-362.

2001 Hollifield, Michael A., Warner, T D., Lian, N., Krakow, B., Jenkins, J.H., Kesler, J., Stevenson, J., Westermeyer, J. “Measuring trauma and health status in refugees: a critical review.” Journal of the American Medical Association 288:611-621.

1999 Jenkins, J.H., Schumacher, J.Family burden of schizophrenia and depressive illness: Specifying the effects of ethnicity, gender and social ecology.British Journal of Psychiatry174:31-38.

Professor Jenkins was awarded the 1990 Stirling Prize by the Society for Psychological Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association.  Dr. Jenkins is the recipient of an award from the Russell Sage Foundation (1997) to convene an international conference that resulted in the volume Schizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity: The Edge of Experience, Jenkins, Janis H. and Barrett, Robert, J.  Editors.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2004).

She was also awarded funding from the School for Advanced Research (2007) for an Advanced Seminar on culture and mental health that led to publication in 2011 of  Pharmaceutical Self:  The Global Shaping of Experience in an Age of Psychopharmacology.

At UC San Diego, Professor Jenkins is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Psychiatry.  She teaches graduate students, undergraduate students, and psychiatry residents.  Her courses focus on a variety of aspects of global health and cultural diversity, medical and psychological anthropology, mental health, psychopharmacology, emotion, migration, political violence, and mixed-methods (ethnographic, qualitative, and quantitative) approaches to research.  Professor Jenkins serves actively as Chair for doctoral student training on wide-ranging studies in medical/psychological anthropology that include topics such as mental health in Oaxaca, Mexico (Dr. Whitney Duncan, 2011); political asylum-seeking among African migrants (Dr. Bridget Haas, 2012); subjective well-being in Cartagena, Colombia (Jessica Novak, Ph. D 2014); and “risky subjectivity” among HIV+ men who have used methamphetamine (Ted Gideonse, Ph.D 2012).

Professor Jenkins is core faculty for the undergraduate major in Global Health for the Global Health Program in tandem with the UC San Diego campus-wide Global Health Initiative. In addition, Dr. Jenkins supervises global health students participating in the UC San DiegoBlum Cross-Border Initiative and serves on the Advisory Board of the UC San Diego Center on Global Justice