I have been thinking about the definition of mental illness by Dinesh Bhugra, Antonio Ventriglio and Kam Bhui which I quoted in my previous post. Dinesh and Antonio Ventriglio would be seen as representatives of social psychiatry (eg. see their article). Kam would be seen as a representative of cultural psychiatry, being a Professor of Cultural Psychiatry and Epidemiology. It concerns me than modern social and cultural psychiatry are apparently diluted versions of biomedical psychiatry.
Mental illness is not merely a "socially elaborated" state. Proper social and cultural psychiatrists would recognise the psychosocial origins of mental disorder. They should not merely be talking about incorporating "sociocultural dimensions of individual experiences and distress as life story narratives" into diagnostic and management frameworks. Understanding these narratives can provide reasons for mental health problems. However helpful the perspective of McHugh & Slavney may be, there are problems with it (see previous post). Talking about getting "social psychiatry at the core of our clinical practice" (see article) won't happen if "neurophysiological or chemical alterations in body or brain functions" are seen as the cause of mental illness. I'm all for recognising the need to "reclaim professionalism and renew our contract with society", but we don't need genomics and epigenetics to tell us that psychiatric disorders are caused by psychosocial determinants. Transcultural psychiatry should not encourage a biomedical model of mental illness for all mental health systems worldwide (see previous post).
I've said before (eg. see previous post) that psychiatry needs to be more thoroughgoing in adopting a sociopsychobiological model of mental illness. In the last chapter of my Critical psychiatry book, I showed that Julian Leff, who represented social psychiatry for a previous generation, still upheld the biomedical model (see extract). It seems the present generation of social psychiatrists are no different.