Contesting Psychiatry : Social Movements in Mental Health book cover
1st Edition

Contesting Psychiatry
Social Movements in Mental Health

ISBN 9780415354172
Published February 10, 2006 by Routledge
240 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Resistance and social movements in mental health have been important in shaping current practice in both mental health and psychiatry. Contesting Psychiatry, focusing largely on the UK, examines the history of resistance to psychiatry between 1950 and 2000. Building on the author’s extensive research, the book provides an empirical account and exploration of the key features including: 

  • an account of the key social movements and organizations who have contested psychiatry over the last fifty years
  • the theorization of resistance to psychiatry which might apply to other national contexts and to social movement formation and protest in other medical arenas
  • the exploration of theories of power in psychiatry.

Original and provocative in its approach, this book offers a new sociological perspective on psychiatry.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. The Mental Health Field  3. Power, Strain and Social Movement  4. Mental Hygiene and Mental Health Politics in the 1950s  5. Anti-Psychiatry and Civil Rights  6. Patients and Survivors  7. Panic, Backlash and Counter-Backlash  8. Power and Resistance

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Nick Crossley is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester. His previous books include: Making Sense of Social Movements, The Politics of Subjectivity, Intersubjectivity, The Social Body and Key Concepts in Critical Social Theory.


Contesting Psychiatry is an important book. Social movement scholars (with some, especially feminist exceptions) have not given sufficient attention to this field, its critics or to the conceptions of self and normality/pathology that are arising from it. Contesting Psychiatry is a needed beginning. Joseph E David, University of Virginia

... I found myself reading a really interesting book. Once Crossley starts telling the story, his enthusiasum shows, the language becomes more lively and the analysis more engaging. Jim Read MHT Digest