Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia
We invite scholars, clinicians, and students in the medical, social, and human sciences to participate in a conference organized around the following themes:
Many researchers presently hope to find the cause of mental illness in the biology of the brain. Yet a vocal contingent is discontented with what they see as an overly narrow view: they eschew models that privilege neuroscience, and argue for models that recognize the profound role society and culture have in shaping the development of minds and personalities. Clinicians of course, acknowledge the psychosocial dimension already in the so-called culture-bound syndromes (e.g. koro, and ataque de nervios). And new research in medical anthropology has begun to demonstrate that even the florid symptoms of psychosis, such as the content of delusions or hallucinations, appear to express the wider culture.
Can psychiatry explain—much less treat—the ‘biopsychosocial’ illnesses by reducing them to underlying diseases of the brain? Or must psychiatry make room for perspectives in psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and progress as a humanist branch of medicine? Some topics of interest include
- The relation of individual illness to a wider culture and society; Can society itself be ‘’sick?’
- What does psychiatry tell us about our own culture, historically and today; Is the practice of psychiatry itself shaped by the forces in our society?
- Is there any life to the idea, articulated by Harry Stack Sullivan, that psychiatry is a science of interpersonal relations?
- What is the relation of aesthetics (e.g. literature, film) to psychology? Can the phenomenology of mental illness be better understood with respect to these cultural resources?
- How can psychoanalytic theory and practice contribute to transforming psychiatry to become more sensitive to the wider culture and society?
- Can the categories of psychopathology be used to understand social trends? The idea of a ‘culture of narcissism’ (Christopher Lasch) comes to mind
- What can a renewed focus on culture and society teach us about specific mental illnesses, such as eating disorders, depression, or anxiety?
- Emerging developments in the field—e.g. psychosomatic medicine, narrative medicine—and how they may inform other branches of medicine, such as primary care or pediatrics?
Please send 250-word abstracts and 75-word bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 3rd, 2014 to be considered for a panel or paper presentation.