Ep 33: Philosophy and Mental Health; Foucault’s Nightmare?

Welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with The Philosophical Chain Gang

Today’s episode is Madness and Philosophy: Foucault’s Nightmare?

Warning: We are discussing the concept of Mental Health in this episode, which we understand is a topic about which many people hold strong opinions. These are our own opinions and experiences, and should not be perceived as professional opinions or advice

The Philosophers discuss what we mean when we talk about madness

Sean explains Pathologies and what that term means

The Philosophers talk about mental illness as something that negatively impacts your life

Sean explains how this could be viewed through Value Theory

Ryver and Sean clarify this point by discussing some of the push-back against these ideas of mental health

Bruce talks about the ability the internet grants to form communities and allow people to come together over things that differ from the perceived societal norm

Ryver and Sean explain the benefits of this in terms of things people cannot or do not feel comfortable talking about in their local community

Sean discusses the evolution of the idea of community as a result of the expansion of the internet

Bruce proposes that perhaps the medical model of mental health will need to change with the evolution of expanding cultures

Sean counters that this may not be a problem with the medical model of mental illness as much as the public health model, that perhaps there needs to be an individual idea

The Philosophers talk about the dangers of self-selected communities creating a form of intellectual homogeneity that reinforces behaviours that do not integrate with the society as a whole

Sean clarifies that these same groups can provide the support people with a particular world-view need to better integrate into said society

Ryver discusses some of the benefits of these groups from his own experiences

Sean and Bruce go over the benefits of introspection and the tools Philosophy can give us to analyse our own world

Ryver discusses the evolution of societal ideas of normalcy, including changes to the tool many use to diagnose mental illness: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Sean and Ryver talk about the history of treating mental illness

Sean discusses the history of how people with what we now refer to as mental illness were treated, as well as what Foucault had to say about this history

Ryver briefly talks about the history of asylums

Bruce compares and contrasts the historical and modern problems with how mental illness is considered as a whole

Sean discusses Foucault and the transitions of epochs of knowledge and how this impacts our ideas of illness in general and mental illness specifically

Bruce proposes Aristotelian virtue ethics as a precursor to modern psychology

Ryver posits that some of the behaviours we consider to be pathologies are actually useful character traits in certain professions and fields

Sean expands on this point by discussing the importance of efficiency in our society

The Philosophers discuss different ways this can apply to people with mental illness

Sean and Ryver talk about how perception of these traits are tied quite closely to socio-economic status

Ryver explains how this view seems to have evolved in the modern Zeitgeist

Sean and Bruce raise questions about this view

Ryver responds by clarifying the points he has raised

The Philosophers discuss how the views on and the stigma towards mental illness disproportionately impact the poor

Sean and Bruce flesh out this idea as it pertains to modern American culture

The Philosophers talk about discussions on mental health and mental illness, and encourage you to have these discussions

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