2021 Advanced Study Institute

Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University

Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry

Culture and Psychosis:
New Insights and Challenges

June 14 - 19, 2021
Montreal, Québec

Advanced Study Institute Conference and Workshop (June 14 - 19, 2021)

Persons with psychosis stand out in modern societies as individuals with delusional thinking, hallucinatory experiences, poor social judgment, strange behaviors, and disordered expression of speech and emotion. Many scholars and experts assume psychoses to be brain disorders with similar prevalence and presentation around the world, but there is evidence for substantial cultural variation in symptoms, course and outcome. This ASI will explore new views of psychosis, elaborating how psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, emerged from historical obscurity in the 19th century to be brought into sharp relief when set against a backdrop of an industrializing world that valued productivity (“industry”), material progress and rational thought. Papers will discuss theories of mind in psychosis and cultural frames of common psychotic symptoms, such as hearing voices, in order to examine the role of culture in the experience, expression and interpretation of psychosis. Other papers will examine clinical and research findings in light of cultural and historical frames, including the distinction between psychotic and dissociative symptoms in complex PTSD, problems of misdiagnosis of psychotic disorders, and implications of high rates of psychotic disorders among migrants to European countries. Participants will turn the cultural lens on mental health practice, clinicians and researchers in order to make explicit hidden assumptions about psychosis and how these are promoted and propagated in our own cultural moment. Sessions will address: (1) social ecological theories of the origin and nature of psychotic disorders; (2) cultural variations in psychotic symptoms and experience; (3) social and cultural mediators of the course of psychosis; and (4) innovative treatment approaches to psychosis that address cultural diversity.

The format will be a 4-day Workshop (June 14-17) for researchers working on these issues followed by a public Conference (June 18 & 19) directed to mental health practitioners, researchers and students. The workshop will involve intensive discussion of pre-circulated papers by participants. After peer review, selected papers will be published in a thematic issue of Transcultural Psychiatry.

Guest Faculty: Suze Berkhout, Ayurdhi Dhar, Janis Jenkins, Nev Jones, Anika Maraj, Craig Morgan, Neely Myers, Constantin Tranulis

McGill Faculty: Phoebe Friesen, Ian Gold, Ana Gómez-Carrillo, Srividya Iyer, G. Eric Jarvis, Laurence J. Kirmayer, Michael Lifshitz, Jai Shah

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