Postpsychiatry: Mental Health In A Postmodern World

Paperback | January 9, 2006

byPatrick Bracken, Philip Thomas

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How are we to make sense of madness and psychosis? For most of us the words conjure up images from television and newspapers of seemingly random, meaningless violence. It is something to be feared, something to be left to the experts. But is madness best thought of as a medical condition?Psychiatrists and the drug industry maintain that psychoses are brain disorders amenable to treatment with drugs, but is this actually so? There is no convincing evidence that the brain is disordered in psychosis, yet governments across the world are investing huge sums of money on mental healthservices that take for granted the idea that psychosis is an illness to be treated with medication. Although some people who use mental health services find medication helpful, many do not, and resist the idea that their experiences are symptoms of illnesses like schizophrenia. Consequently they areforced into having treatment against their wishes. So, how do we make sense of this situation? Postpsychiatry addresses these questions. It involves an attempt to rethink some of the fundamental assumptions of mental health work, showing how recent developments in philosophy and ethics can help us to clarify some of the dilemmas and conflicts around different understandings of madness.Throughout, the authors examine the conflicting ways in which politicians, academics, and mental health professionals appear to understand madness, and contrast this with voices and experiences that are usually excluded - those of the people who use mental health services. They then examine thepower of psychiatry to shape how we understand ourselves and our emotions, before considering some of the basic limitations of psychiatry as science to make madness meaningful. In the final section of the book they draw on evidence from service users and survivors, the humanities and anthropology,to point out a new direction for mental health practice. This new direction emphasises the importance of cultural contexts in understanding madness, placing ethics before technology in responding to madness, and minimising 'therapeutic' coercion.

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How are we to make sense of madness and psychosis? For most of us the words conjure up images from television and newspapers of seemingly random, meaningless violence. It is something to be feared, something to be left to the experts. But is madness best thought of as a medical condition?Psychiatrists and the drug industry maintain tha...

Patrick Bracken is a graduate of the National University of Ireland who did his early medical and psychiatric training in Southern Ireland. In the years 1987-1991 he worked for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in Uganda and subsequently worked for the Medical Foundation in London. His M.D. degree was awarded ...

other books by Patrick Bracken

Trauma: Culture, Meaning and Philosophy
Trauma: Culture, Meaning and Philosophy

Paperback|Apr 29 2002

$88.43 online$90.99list price
Format:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.74 inPublished:January 9, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198526091

ISBN - 13:9780198526094

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Table of Contents

Introduction: 'The times they are a-changin'Doing their best1. Values, evidence, conflict2. What counts as evidence?The miracle drug3. The battle for acceptance: defining the relationship between medicine and the world of madness and distressThe ring4. Foregrounding contexts: what kinds of understanding are appropriate in the world of mental illness?Losing Peter5. Mind, language and meaningBeetles6. Ethics before technology - is 'treatment' the best way to think about mental health work?7. Narrative and the ethics of representation8. Meaning and recovery9. Citizenship and the politics of identity10. Are you local? Responding to the challenge of globalisation in mental healthThe veil