This course will introduce students to the major controversies and discourses debated in the study of mental illness. Two major controversies in clinical psychology highlighted are: the debate focusing on nature vs. nurture and the individual vs. society. The course will be part of a series of seminars designed to explore the epistemological, theoretical, and practice implications of concepts of mental illness and culture. Questions to be debated include: what is mental illness? Who defines it? How have the categories changed over time (historically) and place (culturally)? How is mental illness related to ideas of the "individual" and the "mind"? How is mental illness "embodied"? In our views of the "Other", what can we know about our-selves? This course is less about finding out about other cultures, and more about discovering "something" about our ideals and our prejudices. Particular emphasis will be placed on the experience of mental illness; depictions and narratives of mental illness such as those portrayed and/ or imagined in film, memoir, fiction, and other first-person accounts will be highlighted throughout the course.
This course will introduce the students to ideas and controversies related to the concept of abnormality/normality in psychology. In order to discuss and explore these concepts, we will present an overview of contemporary diagnostic categories as described in the DSM-V, the diagnostic manual used in the field of mental health. The course will emphasize the social and historical context for our culture's ideals and assumptions about mental illness. In order to reflect on the experience(s) of mental illness, films, case studies, and memoirs will be included.
M. Lourdes Mattei
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall G16
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002