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Module descriptions

7AANM108 The Concept of Mental Disorder (MSc only)


Credit value: 40
Module tutor: Professor Derek Bolton

  • Formative assessment: two x 3,000-word essays
  • Summative assessment: two x 4,500-word essays

Teaching pattern: one class per week, one hour and a half long, plus seminars in term 2.

NB Please note that this module is taught at the Institute of Psychiatry, Denmark Hill campus.

2012-13 details

Semester: Whole year module (Autumn and Spring)
Time: TBA
Room: TBA
Deadline for summative assessment: 07 June

This module focuses on a wide variety of approaches to the concept of mental disorder as it has developed in modern psychiatry.  The dominant medical model has been criticised in many ways, in the '60's anti-psychiatry critiques and subsequently, for being philosophically mistaken, for having a poor scientific foundation, for failing to recognise the values involved in medical diagnosis, and for having negative effects in practice.  Topics include:

  • Foucault's critique of the modern development
  • associated practices in particular the shift from community to asylums and back to community care
  • cultural constructions (cross cultural studies)
  • Szasz on the myth of mental illness, facts and values in DSM & ICD
  • disorder and evolutionary theoretic concepts
  • feminism and psychiatry
  • social constructionism
  • critiques of the alleged coercive nature of psychiatry and the ethical and social assumptions behind it.

Distinctive features include coverage of various approaches to this multi-faceted problem.  Learning objectives include understanding of the modern European concept of madness and its diversification through the C20th, and understanding of the conceptual and ethical problems arising in contemporary clinical practice.

Learning outcomes

  • TBA

Additional information

  • Please note that this module is typically only permitted for students following the MSc in Philosophy of Mental Disorder, MA Philosophy of Medicine, and MSc in Medical Humanities
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