Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Palgrave Handbook of Sociocultural Perspectives on Global Mental Health

I see that the Palgrave Handbook of Sociocultural Perspectives on Global Mental Health edited by Ross White, Sumeet Jain, David Orr and Ursula Read has now been published (see here).

The publishers' blurb runs:

This handbook incisively explores challenges and opportunities that exist in efforts aimed at addressing inequities in mental health provision across the globe. Drawing on various disciplines across the humanities, psychology, and social sciences it charts the emergence of Global Mental Health as a field of study. It critically reflects on efforts and interventions being made to globalize mental health policies, and discusses key themes relevant for understanding and supporting the mental health needs of people living in diverse socio-economical and cultural environments. Over three rich sections, the handbook critically engages with Global Mental Health discourses. To help guide future efforts to support mental health and wellbeing in different parts of the world, the third section of the handbook consists of case studies of innovative mental health policy and practice, which are presented from a variety of different perspectives.

My self-centred interest is that I have chapter in it on 'Cross-cultural psychiatry and validity in DSM-5'

Abstract
The fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-5, puts greater emphasis than previous editions on cross-cultural factors affecting mental illness [APA 2013]. Diagnostic criteria have been revised to take account of cross-cultural variation, there is a more specific cultural formulation and a glossary lists nine ‘Cultural Concepts of Distress’. But the DSM does not present a clear view of the universal or local constitution of mental illness. Nor does it give an account of the relation of the cultural concepts to the rest of the taxonomy of disorders nor the extent to which they are put forward as valid diagnoses. The first section of this chapter outlines three possible views of the nature of cultural concepts of distress. On one view, which dates back to the German psychiatrist Karl Birnbaum, an underlying universal ‘pathogenic’ component is overlain by a variable ‘pathoplastic’ cultural shape [Birnbaum 1923]. This combination suggests the possibility of two single factor models: pathogenic-only and pathoplastic-only. But, as the second section argues, establishing the correctness of any one of these is difficult. Two influential approaches to the nature of the concept of disorder – Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis and Fulford’s failure of ordinary doing – can be pressed with only minor adjustment to support any of the a priori models of cultural concepts. The final section examines one of the nine cultural concepts: khyal cap or wind attacks, a syndrome found among Cambodians. On inspection none of the three models helps accommodate its own incompatible aetiological theory with the biomedical view of the rest of the DSM. This suggests that the very idea of cultural concepts of distress fits uneasily with the aspirations to validity of the rest of DSM-5.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Philosophy as a research method in health research

Here is another video of me. Sorry. But it was made a year ago to promote health research methods at UCLan. Such videos persuade me of the real skills of those who make presentation both seamless and natural. I manage neither here.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Kant's schematism, Wittgenstein and David Bell on the art of judgement

Some years ago I suffered prolonged writer's block and lost the ability to write or think about philosophy. I was teaching a module on Wittgenstein at Anglia Poly whilst employed by Warwick University and I drove across the A14 every week, drinking a couple of pints and eating corn beef hash at the Tram Depot with my friend Neil Gascoigne and moaning about my inability to think.

Anglia was organising a conference on the analytic -continental divide in philosophy and he suggested, more or less arbitrarily, that I could write something about the problem raised in Kant’s schematism. Starting from David Bell’s paper on the art of judgement which connects that issue to Wittgenstein served as a prompt. Bell suggests, among other things, that the kind of understanding one has of a Jackson Pollock could serve as the right kind of middle ground between full blown conceptual understanding and something which isn't understanding at all. (So my worries about this are akin to my objections to Hannah Ginsborg's 'primitive normativity'.)

The paper wasn’t great but released the block and got me to a few conferences including in Canada. But I was never able to place it. (Mind, for example, said it was too aesthetic; the British Journal of Aesthetics said it wasn’t aesthetic enough.) So some years later I published it in a Polish theology journal. I doubt it has ever been read.

Anyway: here’s a video I have found last week on my university server of an attempt I made a couple of years ago to explain it – not very successfully - to an audience of social scientists.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Emergence, meaning and rationality

Although the word 'emergence' has never featured in any paper I have written - it is not 'in my index' as Rorty delightfully says somewhere - I was an 'emergence fellow' at Durham's Institute of Advanced Study the year my parents died. Hence as a form of singing for my supper I wrote a paper on emergence for their in-house journal before I left. It is now here.

Possibly not my best work, on rereading it, but I was distracted.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences

"Dear Colleague,
I'm pleased to inform you that the new issue of the international online journal Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences has been published, it is freely readable at:

The issue contains:
Volume 9, Issue 2, December 2016

ORIGINAL ARTICLES
M. Aragona
The roots of psychopathological understanding: Karl Jaspers' Verstehen and the influence of Moritz Geiger's empathy

R. Gatta & M. C. Segneri
Biographies of Asylum in Italy: Body, Illness and Rights

A. M. Petta, M. Aragona, P. Zingaretti, C. Ottaviani, G. Antonucci, A. Sarnicola, G. F. Spitoni
Psychopathology, body uneasiness and self-identity in patients with non-BED obesity compared to healthy controls

HISTORY OF MENTAL CONCEPTS
E. C. Laségue & J. Falret
La folie à deux (ou folie communiquée)

DIALOGUES
J. Korf
A short comment on the "Defence of Chalmers" by Hane Htut Maung

H. H. Maung
Two Concepts of the Mental: A Comment on Korf's Reply


Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences proposes and includes Original Papers, Negative Experimental Results, History of Mental Concepts, New Ideas and Dialogues, as described in the guidelines for the authors.

Would you like to write a Dialogue? It is a short article (up to 600 words) freely published and without any deadline commenting another article already published on the previous issues of our Journal.
If you have any question about this Journal then please feel free to contact me at your convenience. I hope you find at least some of our publications of interest and value.
If you think someone of your friends or colleagues could be interested in our Journal please forward them this email. Anybody can register himself at our service of email-alert which will inform about new issues or other news about the Journal through an email. The service is completely free atwww.crossingdialogues.com/alert.htm

Kind regards
Daniela Cardillo
Editorial Office

Friday, 3 February 2017

Some videos from the 2011 INPP conference in Sweden

are here following an email from Helge Malmgren.

"Dear friends, 

I hope that you are all well and do not work too much (the first half of this is true of me). 

The videos from our 2011 conference Ethics, Experience and Evidence have not been possible to watch for some time. Since I think they have a lasting value I have now put them on a new page, in a large (720p) format and using the Vimeo service. If you watch them and find anything that ought to be corrected (matters of fact or aestetic aspects), please notify me. 

With my very best wishes Helge Malmgren 

Helge Malmgren, PhD, MD, emeritus professor 
Dept. of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science Researcher, 
Dept. of Medicine, 
Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg, Sweden 
E-mail: helge.malmgren@filosofi.gu.se"

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Vagueness in Psychiatry

I have just received my copies of the OUP / IPPP book Vagueness in Psychiatry in which I have a chapter. The book itself is as pleasing in design as the rest of the series but is not too dauntingly enormous.

Vagueness in Psychiatry 

Edited by Geert Keil, Lara Keuck, and Rico Hauswald 

International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry 

  • Addresses the problem of indeterminacy in psychiatry and its social, moral and legal implications 
  • Represents the first systematic effort to draw various lines of inquiry together, including the debates about the principles of psychiatric classification, categorical versus dimensional approaches, prodromal phases and sub-threshold disorders, and the problem of over-diagnosis in psychiatry, and relates these debates to philosophical research on vagueness and demarcation problems, helping readers to navigate through the various debates surrounding the problem of blurred boundaries in the classification and diagnosis of mental illness 
  • Brings together eminent scholars from psychiatry, philosophy, and law, thus addressing a broad readership from various disciplines, and encourages interdisciplinary discussions
In psychiatry there is no sharp boundary between the normal and the pathological. Although clear cases abound, it is often indeterminate whether a particular condition does or does not qualify as a mental disorder. For example, definitions of subthreshold disorders and of the prodromal stages of diseases are notoriously contentious. 

Philosophers and linguists call concepts that lack sharp boundaries, and thus admit of borderline cases, vague. Although blurred boundaries between the normal and the pathological are a recurrent theme in many publications concerned with the classification of mental disorders, systematic approaches that take into account philosophical reflections on vagueness are rare. This book provides interdisciplinary discussions about vagueness in psychiatry by bringing together scholars from psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, history, and law. It draws together various lines of inquiry into the nature of gradations between mental health and disease and discusses the individual and societal consequences of dealing with blurred boundaries in medical practice, forensic psychiatry, and beyond. 

Part I starts with an overview chapter that helps readers to navigate through the philosophy of vagueness and through the various debates surrounding demarcation problems in the classification and diagnosis of mental illness. Part II encompasses historical and recent philosophical positions on gradualist approaches to health and disease. Part III approaches the vagueness of present psychiatric classification systems and the debates concerning their revision by scrutinizing controversial categories such as post-traumatic stress disorder and by looking into the difficulties of day-to-day diagnostic and therapeutic practice. Part IV finally focuses on social, moral, and legal implications that arise when being mentally ill is a matter of degree.