Understanding Mental Health: A Critical Realist Exploration

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Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014 - Social Science - 172 pages
"Mental health is very complicated and much of it remains inherently or contingently mysterious. And yet, if we were to take the rhetoric of the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization or (even more dubiously) the drug companies seriously, we should all believe in a confident version of scientific incrementalism (our knowledge is constantly refining and our interventions are becoming more effective with the passing years). From post-structuralism Foucault (1973) made the fair point that human science, existing, as it does, in the ambiguous spaces between the predictive sciences, post hoc descriptive sciences and philosophical reflection, is condemned to unending contention. However, that conclusion has created a tyranny of nihilism in recent times in the academy. The postmodern turn in social science has driven us so far away from confident knowledge claims about reality, that the naivety of psychiatric positivism has been replaced by an equally unhelpful rejection of ontology. This book steers a middle way between psychiatric positivism and the nihilism of the recent French poststructuralist tradition. It relies on the guidance of neither psychiatry nor social science (with the discipline of psychology being an ambivalent participant in both camps), though all of this range of disciplinary knowledge provides my subject matter. Instead, the guidance comes from philosophy, one of Foucault's three legs on the milking stool of human science, but from one of his critics, Roy Bhaskar. He and others in his wake have offered us an escape route from the cul-de-sac options of naive realism and unending postmodern scepticism"--Provided by publisher.

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About the author (2014)

David Pilgrim PhD is Professor of Health & Social Policy in the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Liverpool.

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