Last but not least, it needs to be clear that there are no objectively good or bad values or practices; so, the study of cultures emphasizes relative differences (Rogoff, 2003; Ward et al., 2001). These differences need to be seen in context. What may be unacceptable in one culture could be the norm in another. In this study a large number of situations will be described in which this is the case. Although I initially experienced as personally intolerable some of the cultural practices that I encountered, I tried to refrain from taking a judgmental stance, and hope I managed to do so.
Reliability, validity and the single-case design
One may question whether reliability is at all an issue in the present kind of research, since we relate here to my own subjective experience. Undoubtedly, a researcher is embedded in his own cultural context and worldview (Hofstede, 2001). Consequently, my worldview, shaped by the aforementioned environments, is expected to influence my perceptions and interpretations in this study. More than that, this study is based primarily on my own observations, both introspective and external, and I am likely to have blind spots. I will infrequently include historical observations that are recollected from memory and thus likely to be inexact. Having said that, we may consider that as an experienced clinical psychologist, I was highly trained in self-exploration and observation of others, and this – I hope – will enhance honest and accurate description. In those cases in which I will present facts, the accuracy of the observations will be checked with Bashar and/or others involved in order to maintain at least some level of reliability.