Critical Theories of Mental Health

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00-10:30
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
RC49 Mental Health and Illness (host committee)

Language: English

Since the “golden age” of research on institutional psychiatry in the 1960s and 1970s, critical sociological framings of the knowledge, workings and power of the mental health system has moved from the centre to the periphery of academic work in the area. Thus, in this session, we need to consider whether critical theory is still a significant part of “the future we want” for the sociology of mental health. 
For the purposes of this regular session, “critical theory” will be considered as any theoretical orientation that questions the objectivity and neutrality of the mental health system by studying the formation and uses of professional power and “expert” discourse as forms of social control. Such theory includes (but is not restricted to) critical race theory, critical feminist theory, Marxist theory, labelling theory, as well as social constructionist and Foucaudian approaches.
In presenting the relevance or otherwise of critical theory, this proposal invites sociologists to submit 300-word abstracts which ground their work in one or more topics of current interest including expanding “mental illness” designations and the production of the DSM, increased self-diagnosing behaviour by the public, the expansion of psychiatric and associated professional groups into new areas of social and economic life, biomedical conceptions of mental health and the power of the pharmaceutical industry, global mental health and neo-colonial expansion, and continuing class, ethnic and gender inequalities in psychiatric diagnoses and rates of incarceration.
Session Organizer:
Bruce COHEN, University of Auckland, New Zealand
The Social Construction of Mental Disorders: Three Inevitable Consequences
Dirk RICHTER, Bern University Psychiatric Services, Switzerland; Jeremy DIXON, Dept Social & Policy Sciences, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Trans Health and Transitioning in Western Europe
Milou VAN DER HOEK, University of Lisbon, Portugal