Journal Article

That Jagged Little Pill and the Counter-Politics of the Community of the Expelled: Sacramentality and Psychiatric Medications

M Therese Lysaught

in Christian bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality

Volume 24, issue 3, pages 246-264
Published in print October 2018 | ISSN: 1380-3603
Published online October 2018 | e-ISSN: 1744-4195 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cb/cby012
That Jagged Little Pill and the Counter-Politics of the Community of the Expelled: Sacramentality and Psychiatric Medications

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Abstract

This essay challenges an understandable temptation to view psychiatric pharmacologic interventions as, per se, sacramental. The instinct, I argue, that sacramentality lies at the heart of faithful care for persons with mental illness, is correct, but to locate that sacramentality within the taking of psychiatric medications themselves is to misplace that heart. Rather, Bruce Rogers-Vaughn argues that much of contemporary mental illness is a product of the neoliberal cultural paradigm and correlatively suggests that the primary response must be a counter-politics—a practice of deep solidarity enacted within communities of the expelled. M. Shawn Copeland locates this counter-politics in the dynamic sacramental identity of the Church in a practice she refers to as Eucharistic solidarity. It is this understanding of sacramentality that responds to the etiology and phenomenology Rogers-Vaughn describes and that provides an overarching framework for thinking carefully about the faithful use of psychiatric medications.

Keywords: counter-politics; deep solidarity; Eucharist; mental illness; sacrament

Journal Article.  8660 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Christian Life and Practice ; Medical Ethics

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