Decolonising madness? Transcultural psychiatry, international order and the birth of a global psyche


  • Dr Ana Antic

    University of Exeter

Project summary

The concept of universal, global psyche emerged in the aftermath of the second world war and during decolonisation, when Western psychiatry attempted to leave behind its colonial legacies and lay the foundation for a more inclusive conversation between Western and non-Western mental health communities. In this period, leading psychiatrists across the globe tried to identify and define the universal psychological mechanisms shared among all cultures. 

I will ask whether psychiatric concepts, diagnoses and treatments are global and universally applicable, and whether the norms of mental illness and health might be identical across cultures and ethnic groups. I will offer the first historical analysis of the roots of the current global mental health movement and transcultural psychiatry and explore this far-reaching psychiatric, social and cultural search for a new definition of 'common humanity', which developed in an increasingly inter-connected and culturally diverse global context.