Research Topic

Psychiatrization of Society

About this Research Topic

Worldwide, there have been consistently high or even rising incidences of people classified as mentally ill, paired with increasing mental healthcare service utilization over the last decades. While psychiatric institutions have been consistently expanding, psychiatric knowledge has become increasingly ...

Worldwide, there have been consistently high or even rising incidences of people classified as mentally ill, paired with increasing mental healthcare service utilization over the last decades. While psychiatric institutions have been consistently expanding, psychiatric knowledge has become increasingly dispersed and globalized, making psychiatric vocabularies and classificatory systems widely available, shaping increasing areas of life, creating powerful markets for therapeutic services of all kinds, and impacting how we understand ourselves and others. This process can be described as the psychiatrization of society. Psychiatrization is highly complex, diverse, and global, although it takes different forms in different contexts, involves various actors with largely diverging motives, and is part of a wider assemblage of the psy-disciplines.

The effects of psychiatrization are ambivalent. Individuals or groups might well benefit from aspects of psychiatrization, as the growing mental healthcare system can also increase accessibility of services that are subjectively helpful. In this context, psychiatric diagnosis may essentially determine which quality and quantity of support is available for people in distress. Yet psychiatrization can be potentially harmful to individuals and to public healthcare, e.g., through overdiagnosis and overtreatment, the psychological burden of being labeled, and, in the Global North, exploding costs to meet the needs of the ‘worried well’. From a societal perspective, psychiatrization may further narrow down what is perceived as normal and boost medical interventions which incite individual coping with social problems such as poverty instead of encouraging long-term political solutions. In the Global South, where biomedical psychiatric practice is to a large degree exerted by trained non-specialists, psychiatrization could lead to excessive diagnosis and prescription of medication with little monitoring once people are medicated. Also, the expansion of westernized psychiatry risks undermining local support systems.

To better understand and possibly also to prevent or manage negative aspects, there is a need for transdisciplinary research, that theoretically and empirically assesses the causes, mechanisms, and effects of psychiatrization. Therefore, conceptual contributions, as well as empirical research and case studies, are welcomed in this Research Topic. We are interested in a wide range of questions, among which:

· How should psychiatrization be conceptualized for further research? · What does it overlap with and how does it differ from related theories such as medicalization or psychologization?
· What kind of empirical evidence of psychiatrization can be found in different contexts such as the Global North and the Global South?
· What are the (positive and/or negative) effects of psychiatrization on individuals, society, and health systems and how can they be conceptualized and measured?
· Which impacts does the global crisis caused by the COVID-19-pandemic have on the dynamic of psychiatrization?
· How does psychiatrization look from a micro-perspective (e.g., in case studies or specific analyses of a diagnosis, a healthcare setting, a country, or a region)?
· What is the role of the psychiatric classification (such as the DSM and ICD) in relation to psychiatrization?
· How do psychiatric services interact with the markets for therapy, medication, and other services or goods?
· How do service-users and people who identify as survivors experience psychiatrization? How do these experiences feedback into knowledge production and mental health services?
· How and for which reasons is psychiatrization embraced or resisted by individuals, organizations, or social movements?
· How does psychiatrization influence policy or vice versa?
· How does psychiatrization relate to higher order global or societal developments, such as globalization, individualization, and anomic conditions?


Keywords: Psychiatrization, Transdisciplinary Research, Medicalization, Overdiagnosis, Psychiatric Epidemiology, Health System Research


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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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