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Psychiatry, Culture and Globalisation (Module)

Module description

This module aims to:

  • Examine the social organisation of psychiatry as an apparatus for defining and regulating 'madness' - and sanity. 
  • Consider contemporary western psychiatric conceptions of mental illness and their critics, and use historical investigations to explore the complex links between psychiatric theories and practices and the emergence of 'modern' societies.
  • Consider the birth of the asylum system in the nineteenth century and its relation to the development of modern, urban and industrial forms of life and cultural norms of conduct.  
  • Explore 'colonial' psychiatry, and its role in the management of conduct in the colonies.
  • Examine the transformation of the psychiatric system in the first half of the twentieth century, with the discovery of 'the neuroses' and a 'psychiatrisation of everyday life'. 
  • Analyse further major changes in psychiatry over the last twenty five years: the moves towards 'community psychiatry' and the management of risk; the rise of biological explanations and treatments of mental disorder; the transnational spread of psychiatric medications such as tranquillisers and antidepressants.  
  • Explore the globalisation of psychiatry, considering both the rise of 'transcultural' psychiatry, and the recent scholarship on the spread of 'western' categories and practices to other societies and cultures.
  • Reflect upon the relations of knowledge, power and expertise in psychiatry in different cultures, upon the ways in which psychiatry has operated as a means of social regulation, and upon the role of psychiatry in the cultural construction of normality and abnormality.

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.  

Staff information

Professor Nikolas Rose

Teaching pattern

Not applicable

Module assessment - more information

500 word essay outline and bibliography

2,500 word essay

Key information

Module code 6SSHM008

Credit level 6

Assessment coursework

Credit value

Semester Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module No