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Title: All 'in the mind'? : towards a new model of embodied mental health
Author: Lucas, Grace
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2176
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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The National Clinical Director of Mental Health for NHS England has said that we need to ‘dump Descartes’, and the authors of one of psychiatry’s principal diagnostic manuals have stated that the term mental disorder is a dualistic anachronism. Existing critical challenges to dualism, including affect theory, new materialism and phenomenology, have sought to reinstate meaning for the material body, and biomedical work exploring the immune system, epigenetics and the microbiome-gut-brain axis suggests that mind over matter is an untenable principle. Moreover, UK government health strategies have come to recognise the relationship between mental and physical health outcomes and are increasingly focused on connecting up care. However, mind and body dualism is deeply and habitually ingrained in medical practice, healthcare structures and research silos. Despite efforts focused on integration, the dominating influence of psychiatric discourse and the focus on mental health within the confines of the head continue to reinforce the split. Working with a transdisciplinary critical medical humanities framework, and guided by feminist criticism gesturing towards making social change, this thesis critiques dominant models of mental health focused on immaterial thoughts or brain dysfunction, both of which overwrite embodied dimensions of experience. It argues that mental health involves physical beings in constant contact with the world and that without a shift in the language, the social, corporeal and environmental aspects of mental health remain tacked on to problematically individualised and internalised constructs. To go against the grain of language, the thesis then moves on to find appropriate tools and models with which to conceptualise non-dualist ontologies and to gesture towards an embodied model of mental health. It concludes that a radical shift in mental health research and practice is urgently needed that drops out of the head and into the ‘being-body’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available