Monday, October 02, 2017

Reflections on critical psychiatry

Google books has made freely available the chapter 'Reflections on critical psychiatry' by Pat Bracken and Phil Thomas in the new book Routledge international handbook of critical mental healthedited by Bruce Cohen. As Richard Hassall says (see tweet), it provides a "useful summary of the critical psychiatry stance".

What I like is the way the chapter describes the five dimensions of the critical psychiatry project: ontological, epistemological, empirical/therapeutic, ethical and political. I also like the way the authors say that critical psychiatry challenges the technological paradigm rather than just the biomedical paradigm, recognising that psychological, not just biological,  understanding can also be mechanistic. As they say, "Reductionism and positivism have dominated mental health research". As they go on to conclude, critical psychiatry is about "deconstructing the authority of [modern] ... psychiatry".

1 comment:

Richard Hassall said...

I would add that the technological paradigm seems to contain the assumption that mental disorders are fundamentally "things" or entities of some kind, whether these are biomedical diseases or some other sort of psychological categories, and that these can therefore be organised into some kind of scientific taxonomy. In other words, the DSM and ICD may not be the best taxonomies, but some such taxonomy ought to be attainable eventually with the right amount of scientific effort. I think this is just an assumption and one that can and should be questioned. As I understand it, this is part of what critical psychiatry sets out to do.