Honouring Professor Frederick Hickling

With great sadness, we mourn the passing of our dear friend and colleague Frederick Hickling, who died in Kingston, Jamaica on the evening of May 7 after a sudden illness. He was a giant in the global movements for deinstitutionalization, community mental health and cultural psychiatry. Although much of his work was centred in Jamaica, he trained with Morris Carstairs in Edinburgh, and later worked in New Zealand and in the north of England, where he was deeply influenced by his colleagues, by Fanon, and by the political realization of a free Jamaica, which fueled his optimism and conviction of the constructive role that mental health and the arts could play in social change and human flourishing.Dr. 

Fred had boundless intellectual energy and creativity—advocating, researching and educating on many fronts to develop a transformative postcolonial psychiatry that addressed what he viewed as “decolonizing the psyche” in a post-slavery era still struggling with the social pathologies borne of centuries of structural violence. With Fred, this transformation began as a medical student, when as stage manager for Jamaica’s National Dance Theatre, he was mentored by Rex Nettleford (later Chancellor of University of the West Indies), planting the seeds for his later development of the psychohistoriographic approach to healing and the use of art for healing and social change. Fred was a fearless in calling out racism, social injustice, and hypocrisy and fighting to counter the depredations of inequality wherever he found them.

He did path-breaking work in Jamaica, developing community psychiatry, using theatre, radio and the arts to bring the voices of patients at Bellevue Hospital to wider awareness, and integrating psychiatry into medicine and primary care. At McGill, with Jaswant Guzder and Duncan Pederson, we were privileged to work with him in recent years, as he developed the extraordinary Dream-a-World resilience model for promoting mental health among children in Jamaica. He was focussed on building vehicles to carry this work forward, developing CARIMENSA with his wife Hilary Hickling and an active research team, teaching and applying his Cultural Therapy and Psychohistoriographical Group Work approaches internationally. He taught for many years in our annual summer program in social and cultural psychiatry, where his passion, integrity, creativity, and commitment to social justice were an inspiration to students from around the world.

His loss is a grievous blow to our international community. We hope to build on his his legacy in future work in mental health promotion, and plan to establish a scholarship in his name for students from the Caribbean to attend our annual summer program, and a thematic issue of Transcultural Psychiatry in his honour.

Dr. Frederick Hickling: Owning our Madness | ULTRASANITY at SAVVY Contemporary 2020

Laurence. J. Kirmayer
Jaswant Guzder
Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry
McGill University


Critical Public Health
Winter 2019 ANTH 540 (crn17810)
Professor Sandra Teresa Hyde

SEMINAR: Mondays (January 14-April 8) 9:15-11:55 Leacock 917
OFFICE HOURS: Wednesday 2 to 4 in 818 Leacock
Email: Sandra.hyde [at]
Critical Public Health, historically associated with health disparities or the structural determinants of health, is a hot topic these days. We begin this seminar by discussing the various discursive moves that brought about the term the structural determinants of health and then move beyond that paradigm and explore a variety of issues that are often placed on the fringes of critical studies in public health. We explore the following:  Medicine, disability and aging; the anti-vaccine movement and concepts of immunity; the new drug epidemics and addicts’ stories; global health, its metrics and data production in the global south; and climate change as a public health issue. The other goal of the seminar is to join the public conversation, meaning that students will work toward understanding how scholarly research becomes part of public conversations. This advanced seminar in medical anthropology is designed for students in their last year in anthropology, the social science and medicine minor, students interested in health and health policy, public health, nursing and pre-med students, and anyone with a strong background in social theory. Prerequisites are U3 status or permission of instructor, including ANTH 227 or equivalent, one 300 Anthropology course, and one 400 level medical humanities or social science theory course, or a MA graduate student standing in any discipline. The course is organized around six modules that rotate almost every two weeks: each module includes a variety of learning outcomes: lectures, guest lectures, and most important engaged and interactive student-lead discussions.

Dr. Laurence Kirmayer on the importance of providing mental health information in multiple languages.


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