Anthropological Perspectives on Mind, Madness and Mental Health (700L7)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

Anthropology makes a rich contribution to contemporary work on mental health. For example, anthropologists have been closely involved in current discussions over efforts by the Movement for Global Mental Health to ‘scale up’ mental health provision across the globe. They have entered into long-standing dialogue with other disciplines over the construction of psychiatry in countries of the Global North; and they helped to ensure that the latest edition (2013) of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual recognises culture to the greatest extent yet.

Anthropology’s engagement with questions of the mind and mental disorder dates back well over a century and has developed into an extensive field of knowledge and debate.

In collaboration with work in psychiatry, psychology and sociology, you explore sociocultural perspectives on the shaping of selfhood, emotions, distress and madness. 

You draw on anthropological research informed by fieldwork carried out in both the Global North and Global South: in communities, psychiatric clinics, marketing campaigns for psycho-pharmaceutical medications, religious settings, humanitarian interventions, and the international circuit of neuropsychiatric conferences and knowledge production.

You study:

• constructing self, psyche and disorder
• culture, affect and emotions
• classifying and managing madness
• life-course perspectives, culture and mental health
• addiction: desires, reward and regulation
• medicating mind: the anthropology of psycho-pharmaceuticals • Globalising mental health
• medical pluralism and mental health
• institutions, community and recovery.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 36 hours of contact time and about 264 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.