Course Description

Course Name

Culture, "Madness" and Medicalization

Session: VLNS3422

Hours & Credits

10 UK Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Assessment: essay (2000 words) [40%], presentation [10%], unseen exam (2 hours) [50%]

This module provides a critical introduction to today’s dominant psychological/clinical practices such as psychoanalysis, bio-psychiatry, psychotherapy, counselling and clinical psychology. Drawing upon classic and more recent anthropological texts we question, for example, the extent to which mental disorders are culturally constructed artefacts rather than scientifically discovered biological entities; whether antidepressants are efficacious more for cultural than biological reasons; whether the Globalisation of Western mental health is having indigenous effects that are efficacious; whether psychoanalysis and anthropology can still fruitfully inform each other theoretically and methodologically; and whether the medicalization of Western emotional lives has fundamentally altered how we currently understand, manage and experience emotional suffering. In short, this module brings into sharp relief how anthropology can effectively deconstruct and inform Western psychological therapies in ways still unconsidered by many mental health professionals. We thus illustrate the usefulness of anthropology in illuminating how psychological/clinical practices are dramatically shaping contemporary subjectivities and wider socio/cultural life.

*Course content subject to change