Post-socialism, the psy-ences and mental health

The April 2016 issue of Transcultural Psychiatry includes a new article by Eugene Raikhel and Dörte Bemme :

Over the past decades, the formerly socialist countries of East Central Europe and Eurasia have experienced a range of transformations which bear directly upon the domains of mental health, psychiatry, and psychology. In particular, the disciplines and professions concerned with the human mind, brain, and behavior (“the psy-ences”) were strongly affected by sociopolitical changes spanning the state-socialist and postsocialist periods. These disciplines’ relationship to the state, their modes of knowledge production, and the epistemic order and subjectivities they contributed to have all undergone dramatic ruptures. In this essay, we trace the literature on these issues across three thematic domains: (a) history and memory; (b) the reform of psychiatry in an era of global mental health; and (c) therapy and self-fashioning. We argue for a closer articulation between the social science and historical literature on socialism and its “posts” and the literature among anthropologists, sociologists, and historians on the sciences of the mind and brain, and we suggest that each of these literatures helps to critically open up and enrich the other.