Beyond Anti-Psychiatry: Revisiting Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic”

We’ve heard that the “mental illness epidemic” is a major public health crisis in the US, perhaps even globally. The claim is that rates of mental illness have skyrocketed in recent decades, and now as many as 1 in 4 people have a mental disorder. The epidemic is the subject of numerous media publications, books and scientific articles, and public rallying cries. Numerous researchers and advocacy groups point to the “mental illness epidemic” as a major public health crisis. A 2017 WHO report even states that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Drug companies, governments, nonprofits, and laypeople alike use claims of a “mental illness epidemic” in pushing for changes to mental health treatment (expanding care, developing new drugs, challenging stigma, etc.).

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SWPACA 2020: Reflections, Refractions

Two weeks ago, I attended the annual SWPACA (Southwest Popular/American Culture Association) Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The SWPACA Conference  hosts scholarly research on popular and American culture from a number of disciplines. Personally I’m a bit out of touch with popular culture. I don’t watch a lot of TV shows or movies, and the conference program was full of media and cultural objects I’d never heard of. But in the end it didn’t matter too much—beyond the media/source material, what was most interesting about SWPACA was the variety of original ideas and theories from a wide range of interdisciplinary perspectives. There was still plenty to appreciate about the presentations I saw, even when the source material was unfamiliar.

The SWPACA 2020 Undergraduate Fellowship winners. Source:

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