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PHS2M Philosophie, Histoire et Sociologie de la Médecine Mentale / Philosophy, History and Sociology of Mental Medicine

Contrat ANR 2008-2011
Coordinateur : Pierre-Henri Castel (Cermes3)

Programme blanc de l'ANR 2008/2011
En partenariat avec : l'IHPST/UP1/ENS/CNRS, l'Institute for Philosophy and Mental Health (IPDMH) de l'Université du Central Lancashire (UCLAn), l'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) et l'Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College (Londres), "Philosophy, History and Sociology of Mental Health".

The current context of this project is characterized by three main trends :

  1. In philosophy, a new interest in psychiatry has recently blossomed. But it is often limited to a standard application of the traditional naturalistic rationale in the philosophy of mind to the results and hypotheses of the new psychiatric neurosciences. It also relies on the same clinical assumptions, "mental" being described in the light of statistically relevant nosographic entities, in order, for example, to fit them into a neo-darwinian account of abnormal psychology. This philosophy is mainly functionalist in its conception of the mind (or theory of mind), and it implicitly regards itself as being a positive theoretical contribution to cognitive sciences. Although still very much valued, phenomenological psychiatry is confined to the margins (with the exception of "naturalized phenomenology"), and psychoanalysis, once prominent, is simply excluded from the debate (with the exception of neuropsychoanalysis). And although chairs of Philosophy and Psychiatry or Psychopathology exist in the U.S. and in the U.K. and even a chair in Philosophy and Mental Health in one institution with which we are establishing a partnership (the IPDMH at the UCLan), no such positions exist in France.
  2. In sociology/anthropology, in a predominantly constructivist vein, theories of mental health are framed within the traditional perspective of social control (viz. normative strategies, economical interests, notably the psychotropic drugs market), or as new forms of subjectivation and individualism that constitute both the symptoms of new "social pathologies" caused by society, and the responses to this complex process of normalization/medicalization of personal experience. While psychiatric anthropology as a practical and as a theoretical field continues to exist and to prosper throughout the world, in France, it is replaced by a much contested and somewhat outdated ethnopsychiatry.
  3. Historians, on the contrary, are reviving their interest in psychiatric theories and classical texts of the past. In France, however, this current is institutionally weak, and the survival of the only French chair in History of Psychology is threatened. Moreover, many historians of science still tend to regard psychological and psychiatric objects as a secondary, of more literary than scientific import.

The main objective of the PHS2M program is to lay the basis of a French interdisciplinary community working on mental health issues, from a philosophical, historical, and sociological standpoint. Interdisciplinarity being the essence of this project, we can only underscore the mutual help that the PHS2M partners expect from each others, intellectually and materially.