Bioethics Blogs

Special Issue! Practical Anthropology for a Global Public Psychiatry by Anna Zogas

A very exciting special issue of Transcultural Psychiatry has just been published: Practical Anthropology for a Global Public Psychiatry: Provocations and Future Directions is edited by Neely Myers, Rebecca Lester, and Kim Hopper. Here are the abstracts!

Reflections on the anthropology of public psychiatry: The potential and limitations of transdisciplinary work
Neely Myers, Rebecca Lester, and Kim Hopper 

Transcultural psychiatry and anthropology have long championed the comparative study of emotional distress to better understand how people experience, interpret, and manage extraordinary mental events and emotional quandaries around the globe. This special issue brings together practitioners, scholars, and experts from both disciplines working at the intersections of the community and the clinic, the personal and the social, the local and the global, to ask: where does this effort currently stand? We hope this collection of articles will serve as a bellwether selection of provocations and future directions for transdisciplinary research in psychiatric anthropology.

Much research on the mental health system in the US, at least, skirts the sprawling, fragmented, poorly mapped terrain of “de facto” services—a motley array of institutional arrangements claiming to offer custody and care, such as jails, prisons, detention facilities, residential institutions for teenagers, homeless shelters, and a variety of quasi-institutions for the deaf, blind, and elderly. Rather than avoiding these settings, the researchers contributing to this issue reflect on the challenging work of engaging intimately with interlocutors living with these conditions. We use the term “public psychiatry” to refer to this ad hoc, patch-worked, and ill-monitored system. Unlike “public health,” as we use the term here, public psychiatry encompasses not populations but structures: state, private, and informal configurations of care, the surrogates of care and the default options offered when care is unavailing.

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