The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health offers the most comprehensive collection of theoretical and applied writings to date with which students, scholars, researchers and practitioners within the social and health sciences can systematically problematise the practices, priorities and knowledge base of the Western system of mental health. With the continuing contested nature of psychiatric discourse and the work of psy-professionals, this book is a timely return to theorising the business of mental health as a social, economic, political and cultural project: one which necessarily involves the consideration of wider societal and structural dynamics including labelling and deviance, ideological and social control, professional power, consumption, capital, neoliberalism and self-governance.

Featuring original essays from some of the most established international scholars in the area, the Handbook discusses and provides updates on critical theories of mental health from labelling, social constructionism, antipsychiatry, Foucauldian and Marxist approaches to critical feminist, race and queer theory, critical realism, critical cultural theory and mad studies. Over six substantive sections, the collection additionally demonstrates the application of such theoretical ideas and scholarship to key topics including medicalisation and pharmaceuticalisation, the DSM, global psychiatry, critical histories of mental health, and talk therapy.

Bringing together the latest theoretical work and empirical case studies from the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada, the Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health demonstrates the continuing need to think critically about mental health and illness, and will be an essential resource for all who study or work in the field.

chapter |12 pages


The importance of critical approaches to mental health and illness

part I|102 pages

chapter 1|9 pages

Labelling theory

chapter 3|8 pages

‘Mental health’ praxis – not the answer

A constructive antipsychiatry position

chapter 4|7 pages

Foucauldian theory

chapter 5|10 pages

Marxist theory

chapter 6|8 pages

Critical cultural theory

chapter 8|7 pages

A critical feminist analysis of madness

Pathologising femininity through psychiatric discourse

chapter 10|9 pages

Trapped in change

Using queer theory to examine the progress of psy-theories and interventions with sexuality and gender

chapter 12|8 pages

Mad studies

part II|36 pages

Critical histories of psychiatry

chapter 13|9 pages


A critical history of ‘mental health care’ in the United States

chapter 14|7 pages

Medieval mysticism to schizoaffective disorder

The repositioning of subjectivity in the discourse of psychiatry

chapter 16|10 pages

Autism looping

part III|26 pages

Medicalisation and pharmaceuticalisation

part IV|26 pages

The politics of diagnosis

chapter 20|7 pages

The DSM and the spectre of ignorance

Psychiatric classification as a tool of professional power

part V|30 pages

Colonial and global psychiatry

chapter 23|8 pages

The mad are like savages and the savages are mad

Psychopolitics and the coloniality of the psy

part VI|29 pages

Critical approaches to therapy