The study of the influence of culture on behavior disturbances has a long history in psychiatry. Attention has principally focused on etiological questions and on how psychiatric illness is handled socially, although there is a tradition which deals with the manifestations of so-called functional psychiatric illnesses. In all of these instances, the methods and rationale of the social sciences have been employed and underlying neurobiological factors neglected. However, since a people's culture is learned, it is obviously internalized in some way in the individual. A basic question is how cultural influences may possibly affect the organization and functioning of the nervous system and, by extension, behavior and its disturbances. The relevance of this topic for psychiatry and the social sciences is illustrated by analysis of four prototypical organic psychiatric illnesses.