Being Human: Reflections on mental distress in society
ISBN 978 1 906254 06 3 (2008)
This volume attempts to shed a new and different light on the intersections between mental health, mental distress and society, without offering any programmatic methodology or declaration of intent. An array of critical voices from across various disciplines in the humanities (including philosophy, psychiatry, psychology, history and literature) are brought to bear upon the subject of mental distress as a form of life that appears within particular social and cultural environments.
Being Human provides a powerful statement of the importance of thinking through the humanities for any non-reductive understanding of the meaning of mental distress, and gives compelling insights on a range of problems including; the understanding and representation of mental distress, the history of symptoms and critiques of psychiatry, and what a critical practice within mental health care means. At the heart of this collection lies a concern with the experience of mental distress as central to any understanding of what it means to be human. The book will be of interest to all those involved in the wider mental health field, including, academics, practitioners, service users and families and carers. Students and academics working within the humanities as a whole, particularly those interested in the experience of mental distress, will find this volume to be a key point of entry for current issues of debate.
Part One: Understanding and Representing Mental Distress
1. Feelings, Beliefs and Being Human
2. Towards a Critical Perspective on “Narrative Loss” in Schizophrenia
3. Constructions, Reconstructions and Deconstructions of Mental Health
4. The Authority of Lived Experience
5. Philosophy and Psyche: What can philosophy tell psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy?
Part Two: Symptoms in Society
6. The Role of Tricksters in Challenging Psychiatry
7. Writing From the Asylum: A Re-Assessment of Female Patients in the History of Psychiatry In France
8. Mirrors of Shame: the Act of Shaming and the Spectacle of Female Shame
9. Symptoms in Society. The Cultural Significance of Fatigue in Victorian Society
10. Artaud’s Madness: The Absence of Work?
Part Three: Critical Reflections on Practice
11. A Phenomenological Encounter: Prelude to a Mental Health Assessment in a Magistrates Cells
Dave R. Wilson
12. Opening up Space for Dissension: A Questioning Psychology
13. Clinical Psychology and Truth
I found this an immensely challenging book in many respects. At the outset the book's title lays down the challenge of reflecting on 'being human' through reflecting on the nature of mental distress. Having now read the book I wonder whether I am more able to appreciate what it is to be human, but I certainly feel I am more likely to empathically understand the many faces of mental distress and I have undoubtedly benefited from the stimulation to my thinking and reflective capacities this book provides ... Overall, I am very pleased to add this book to my personal library. It contains a lot of very useful material that I shall no doubt return to many times. I believe it does succeed in opening up spaces to think and critically reflect. It also emphasised to me just how little we really understand mental distress, and that being human deserves our utmost respect and awe. Rachel Freeth, Psychiatrist, reviewed in Ipnosis No.33, 2009