Categorization and stigmatization

Grant Gillett

in The Mind and its Discontents

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780199237548
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754555 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Categorization and stigmatization

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Psychiatric diagnosis is related to judgements (both descriptive and evaluative) from various social perspectives. The particular problems arising from psychiatric diagnosis including determinations of efficacy of treatment and political abuse of psychiatry reflect the complexity of those judgements and the responses of the individual to them. The chapter examines Szasz's claims concerning the myth of mental illness and Laing's focus on the interpersonal and social dimension of existential unease, arriving at a discursive naturalism that is messy in terms of traditional categories of biological or scientific realism about psychiatric disease. Structures of signification and their genealogies, expressed in the medicalization of social problems, are deconstructed in postmodern critiques of the idea of psychiatric categories and mental illness in general. A more modest scrutiny argues for a narrative conception of human identity and personality that is an enactment of metaphors and formative self-understandings of lived engagement with the world and that can be deeply maladaptive for a variety of reasons.

Chapter.  12611 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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