Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health  book cover
1st Edition

Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health

Edited By

Bruce Cohen

ISBN 9780367229665
Published February 7, 2019 by Routledge
308 Pages

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Book Description

The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health offers the most comprehensive collection of theoretical and applied writings to date with which students, scholars, researchers and practitioners within the social and health sciences can systematically problematise the practices, priorities and knowledge base of the Western system of mental health. With the continuing contested nature of psychiatric discourse and the work of psy-professionals, this book is a timely return to theorising the business of mental health as a social, economic, political and cultural project: one which necessarily involves the consideration of wider societal and structural dynamics including labelling and deviance, ideological and social control, professional power, consumption, capital, neoliberalism and self-governance.

Featuring original essays from some of the most established international scholars in the area, the Handbook discusses and provides updates on critical theories of mental health from labelling, social constructionism, antipsychiatry, Foucauldian and Marxist approaches to critical feminist, race and queer theory, critical realism, critical cultural theory and mad studies. Over six substantive sections, the collection additionally demonstrates the application of such theoretical ideas and scholarship to key topics including medicalisation and pharmaceuticalisation, the DSM, global psychiatry, critical histories of mental health, and talk therapy.

Bringing together the latest theoretical work and empirical case studies from the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada, the Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health demonstrates the continuing need to think critically about mental health and illness, and will be an essential resource for all who study or work in the field.

Table of Contents

List of Tables



List of Abbreviations

List of Contributors

Introduction: The Importance of Critical Approaches to Mental Health and Illness (Bruce M. Z. Cohen)

Part I

Theoretical Perspectives

1. Labelling Theory (Stefan Sjöström)

2. The Social Construction of Mental Illness (Kevin White)

3. "Mental Health" Praxis—Not the Answer: A Constructive Antipsychiatry Position (Bonnie Burstow)

4. Foucauldian Theory (Simone Fullagar)

5. Marxist Theory (Bruce M. Z. Cohen)

6. Critical Cultural Theory (Sami Timimi)

7. Critical Realism and Mental Health Research (David Pilgrim)

8. A Critical Feminist Analysis of Madness: Pathologising Femininity through Psychiatric Discourse (Jane M. Ussher)

9. Critical Race Theory and Mental Health (Roy Moodley, Falak Mujtaba and Sela Kleiman)

10. Trapped in Change: Using Queer Theory to Examine the Progress of Psy-Theories and Interventions with Sexuality and Gender (Shaindl Diamond)

11. Reflections on Critical Psychiatry (Pat Bracken and Phil Thomas)

12. Mad Studies (Rachel Gorman and Brenda A. LeFrançois)

Part II

Critical Histories of Psychiatry

13. Madness: A Critical History of "Mental Healthcare" in the United States (Tomi Gomory and Daniel J. Dunleavy)

14. Medieval Mysticism to Schizoaffective Disorder: The Repositioning of Subjectivity in the Discourse of Psychiatry (Alison Torn)

15. The Myth of the Irish Insanity Epidemic (Damien Brennan)

16. Autism Looping (Gil Eyal)

Part III

Medicalisation and Pharmaceuticalisation

17. The Changing Drivers of Medicalisation (Meredith R. Bergey)

18. Female Sexual Dysfunction: Medicalising Desire (Annemarie Jutel and Barbara Mintzes)

19. Biomedicine, Neoliberalism and the Pharmaceuticalisation of Society (Emma Tseris)

Part IV

The Politics of Diagnosis

20. The DSM and the Spectre of Ignorance: Psychiatric Classification as a Tool of Professional Power (Owen Whooley)

21. The Attributes of Mad Science (David Cohen, Tomi Gomory and Stuart A. Kirk)

22. Racialisation of the Schizophrenia Diagnosis (Suman Fernando)

Part V

Colonial and Global Psychiatry

23. The Mad are like Savages and the Savages are Mad: Psychopolitics and the Coloniality of the Psy (China Mills)

24. Therapeutic Imperialism in Disaster and Conflict Affected Countries (Janaka Jayawickrama and Jo Rose)

25. Problematising Global Mental Health (Clement Bayetti and Sumeet Jain)

Part VI

Critical Approaches to Therapy

26. A Sociology of and in Psychotherapy: The Seventh Sin (Peter Morrall)

27. Marxist Theory and Psychotherapy (Ian Parker)

28. A Feminist Critique of Trauma Therapy (Emma Tseris)

29. A Journey into the Dangers of Orthodoxy from the Former Director of the Freud Archives (Jeffrey M. Masson)


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Bruce M.Z. Cohen is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of Mental Health User Narratives: New Perspectives on Illness and Recovery, Being Cultural and Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness


"The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health is a one-stop resource for those with a professional or academic interest in mental health […] Moreover, the book is very timely given the dominance of conservative approaches to mental health, the rise of neoliberal ideologies, and the increasing medicalisation of everyday life. This book is highly recommended for those with an interest in exploring critical perspectives to mental health and illness and would be a valuable resource for students, researchers or professionals in mental health or related fields." - Claire Moran, Feminism & Psychology

"[Cohen’s chapter on Marxist theory] and many of the other chapters in the book provide useful summaries of aspects of critical mental health studies, perhaps particularly for students. The book can therefore be highly recommended." - Duncan Double, Psychreg Journal of Psychology

"This book is well worth reading for the range and depth of its subject matter, and above all, for its determination to ask vital but troubling questions about the mental health treatment professions and whose interests they really serve." - Paul Moloney, The Psychologist Magazine

"The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health provides a comprehensive, wide-ranging, and up-to-date portrayal of a wide variety of critical approaches toward psychiatry in a global context. It is an essential tool for all students, researchers, and clinicians who are interested in alternative models of the theory, history, politics, and professional practice of mental health and illness." - Allan V. Horwitz, Board of Governors Professor Sociology, Rutgers University, USA

"Bruce Cohen has brought together a wide variety of critical scholarship on mental health issues in this new Routledge Handbook. Anyone seeking an overview of the diverse and often contradictory sorts of critique of psychiatric orthodoxy that have developed in the past half century will find this a provocative and enlightening volume." - Andrew Scull, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego