Department of Sociology
Sociology 194a: Sociology of Mental Health and Illness
This course examines sociological approaches to mental health and illness. The focus of the course will be more on the history, definitions, social responses and consequences of conceptualizations and treatment of mental illness than on the development of individual conditions we deem to be mental disorders. While there will be some discussion of social factors related to mental disorder and types of mental health treatment, we will mostly examine these in the context of the social definition and response to what are seen to be psychiatric conditions. The majority of the reading in the course will be from the required books with some supplementary (and important) articles on LATTE. We will include both classic and contemporary sociological writings on mental health.
1. Understand sociological approaches to mental health and illness. 2. Become familiar with issues in the history of mental illness and treatment. 3. Evaluate the origins and consequences of social policies toward mental disorder. 4. Examine the emergence and application of specific categories of mental disorder. 5. Examine the integration of social and biomedical approaches to mental illness. 6. Encounter the experience of mental illness and treatment. 7. Assess the spread of Western psychiatric ideas and the globalization of diagnoses and treatment.
Students are expected to attend class regularly and be prepared to discuss the readings assigned for that week. I expect written assignments to be submitted on the day they are due and late submissions of written work will not receive full credit.
There will be two take-home essay examinations (mid-term and final) and the option of an independent research paper or power point presentation (on a topic to be approved) required of each student. Details of these assignments will be handed out in class and posted on LATTE. Midterm and final each constitute 30% of grade, independent paper or presentation 20% and class participation (including attendance) 20%.
Students are expected to adhere to university policies of academic integrity (see http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/sdc/ai). Suspected academic dishonesty will be reported to the Office of Student Development and Conduct with appropriate sanctions and related consequences.
If a student has a documented disability please inform the professor at the beginning of the course and we will make necessary accommodations.
Tom Burns, Psychiatry: A Very Short Introduction (2006).
Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization (1965)
Erving Goffman, Asylums (1961)
Allen Horwitz, Creating Mental Illness (2003)
David L. Herzberg, Happy Pills in America: From Miltown to Prozac (2010) Susana Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted (1994)
Ethan Watters, Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche (2011)
Articles (all posted on LATTE):
Peter Conrad, “From Hyperactive Children to Adult ADHD: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories, Social Problems, 2000. Allan Frances, “Normal Grief or Depression in DSM-5.” Psychology Today, 2010. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201003/normal-grief-vs-depression-in-dsm5) Allan Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield, “Is There Really an Epidemic of Depression?” Scientific American, 2008 (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=really-an-epidemic-of-depression) Franz Kafka, excerpts from The Metamorphosis
David Karp, "Taking anti-depressant medications: Resistance, trial commitment, conversion, disenchantment."
Qualitative Sociology 16 (4): 337-359 Christopher Lane, “The Selling of Social Anxiety Disorder.” From Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, 2007. Latif Nasser, “Do some cultures have their own way of going mad?” Boston Globe, 2012...
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