Psychiatric Psychodrama

This article by Dr. Awais Aftab has been published on his Psychiatry at the Margins blog-site. It begins:

“‘The maddening ambiguity of our position is what leads to the titular psychiatric psychodrama. One cannot reconcile oneself to psychiatry because it constantly pulls in two directions — it presents one with an ideological narrative that speaks of humanism and pluralism, and a material structure that witnesses biomedical hegemony. At some level this profession just does not make sense to itself, its own ideology out of whack with the plain facts of its own existence. There are those who are tempted to focus only on the positives, and see in this a story of triumphant progress towards a scientific future. And there are those who are inclined to see in it a story of eternal recurrence, single message mythologies ever reinventing themselves. But both of these perspectives are too tidy to capture the phenomenon. For this story is of a profession in contradiction with itself.

The above passage is a modification of a particularly memorable paragraph from Liam Kofi Bright’s brilliant article ‘White Psychodrama.’ I have rephrased it in appropriate places so that it refers to psychiatry rather than whiteness and racial inequality. As I was reading Bright’s paper, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between the situation he describes with the discourse in and around psychiatry, which is also subject to its own peculiar ‘culture war’ and polarization — hence all the fuss around ‘antipsychiatry’ and ‘critical psychiatry.’ The extent of the analogy is limited, but nonetheless, I hope, illuminating in its own way. Vigilance is warranted. I am drawn to the idea of a profession ‘in contradiction with itself,’ a profession that struggles to make sense of the divide between what it aspires to in practice and the actual state of care provided to the average person …”‘

You can read more from here.

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