Pat Bracken: Postpsychiatry – Reaching beyond the technological paradigm in mental health

Foredrag afholdt d. 18. april 2012

 By Dr Pat Bracken

Other material from the lecture:

A: Slides for Copenhagen

B: Talk for Copenhagen

C: Except from the book: Postpsychiatry intro

D: Opinion: Psychiatric power a personal view



Since its origins in the asylums of the 19th century, psychiatry has been guided by a modernist, technological paradigm. Through this, mental health issues ‘show up’ as technical problems that are open to scientific investigation and analysis. The non-technological aspects of mental health such as values, relationships and meanings are rendered secondary. There have always been philosophical and conceptual challenges to this paradigm. Such challenges are now supported by a growing body of empirical evidence that points to the primacy of these non-technological issues. The growing service-user movement is also seeking change. If psychiatry is to be genuinely ‘evidence-based’ and sincere in its commitments to work with the service-user movement, it will have to move beyond the hold of the current paradigm.



Dr Pat Bracken is currently Clinical Director of the Mental Health Service in West Cork, Ireland. He trained in medicine and psychiatry inIrelandand in the UK. In the 1980s he worked for 3 years with victims of torture and violence in Uganda, East Africa. This experience had a profound effect on his understanding of mental health problems and the nature of healing. He has also worked for shorter periods in other developing countries such as Liberia and Nepal and most recently in Laos.

Along the way, he took the time to train in philosophy and in his writing he has tried to bring philosophical insights to bear on some of the problems we face in the area of mental health. He was Professor of Philosophy, Diversity and Mental Health at the University of Central Lancashire in the years 2006-2008.

Dr Bracken was one of the founders of the Critical Psychiatry Network.  [] He was co-editor of the book Rethinking the Trauma of War with Dr Celia Petty, published in 1998. His own book Trauma: Culture, Meaning and Philosophy was published in 2002. With Prof Phil Thomas, he published the book Postpsychiatry: A New Direction for Mental Health in 2005.

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