Time to move beyond Western models …particularly in Mental health

When western models do not work in the West, to expect that they would work in the non-west is  great ignorance and of course a colonial hangover. The Westerners left, but not before they ensured that the Easterners were so enamored by their culture and civilization that they would forever keep looking at the West for answers to their problems, no matter in what domain. So whatever originates from the West is seen as authentic, more worthwhile and true. That is called colonial hangover and the move to counteract that is post- colonialism, which brings the focus back to one’s own self, via one’s own worldview and not that proffered by the west.

I believe that the poorer nations, who are also in some ways, responsible for the riches of the richer nations, have to craft their own stories, pathways and salvation. Instead we keep looking at the rich nations to resolve problems that were created in the west and then handed out to the rest. Psychiatry is of course, one such dilemma. It was a product of the West, particularly the US and now it dominates the whole scene of mental health in the world. Nobody questions it easily, for the idea does not even occur to most.

However, this western hegemony not only continues in the field of mental health, but also in the field of the non-profits who work in mental health and constantly look at models and support systems from the West to the way to go and on another plane they constantly keep on preaching the same models, another new version of the colonial hangover! The West is a different society, with its own social reality, its affluence and its own structure of society and family. Can we ever learn to go past what the White wo/man is doing, for god sake? Can we ever learn to reclaim our reality and believe that we can offer them solution sometimes and not they all the time?

Time for our own emancipation, our way, our stories, our narratives and our interpretation. Time for the launch of the collaborative therapy. But just before I do that I would like to share with the readers of this blog, a recent paper that I have written in the context of mental health, in which I question the ability of some people to label others as mentally ill. Of course most of my work for now is in the domain of social constructionism, and so is this paper. So here is an excerpt from the paper, which is fully downloadable here-

Power to Label: The Social Construction of Madness

The label of mental illness is a demonizing indictment which gives power to one group [of professionals] over another [patients and caregivers], by way of its ability to pathologize human behavior. What is the basis of this nomenclature and how accurately can it map human distress? Does this categorization serve any purpose besides creating categories that then become ‘treatable’ via pharmaceutical interventions? Does it really end up treating people and help them reclaim their lives in any manner? From a social constructionist perspective this paper offers a critique of the current DSM based knowledge, and questions the hegemony of professionals in dealing with situations beyond their control.



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