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Call for Papers

Special Issue of Studies in Social Justice

Mental Health as Social Justice Issue: Beyond Psychocentrism
Edited by: Lacey Croft (York University), Mandi Gray (York University) and Dr. Heidi
Rimke (University of Winnipeg).
Summary of Topic:
This special edition of Studies in Social Justice seeks to critically explore the complex
relationship between social injustice and the pathologization of individuals. In order to
do so, focus will be placed on critical approaches to understanding the power of medicine
and psychiatry in modern society. The now commonly held view that some people are
ab/normal is the consequence and reflection of the growing cultural authority of the
human sciences in everyday life. The dominance of the pathological approach can be
seen in what Ian Marsh (2010) has referred to as the compulsory ontology of
pathology, and what Heidi Rimke has critiqued as psychocentrism, the view that all
human problems are due to a flaw in the bodies/minds/psyches of individuals (Rimke,
2000, 2003, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2011, 2014; Rimke & Hunt, 2002; Rimke & Brock,
Drawing upon the concept of psychocentrism, this special edition will problematize and
critique the pathological approach by interrogating the increasing medicalization and
psychiatrization of human life. Thus, this special issue seeks to link private troubles with
public issues (Mills, 1959) by considering the ways in which the pathological approach to
human problems has become the dominant model within popular culture and the academy
The question of mental and emotional health/illness will be examined within critical
theoretical frameworks that seek to interrogate the medical and psychiatric models of the
human sciences broadly conceived. Papers in this special issue will explore how the
growth of psy discourses has become a cornerstone of contemporary Western society.
We argue that the proliferation of psychocentrism should be understood within a broader
political framework of neoliberalism that hyperresponsibilizes the modern individual as
the source of ones own suffering (and redemption). Such imagery and representations
do not only circulate in academic departments they also form research programmes for
industry, guides for a variety of institutions, and inform governmental policies.
Representations of madness or mental illness have long been a staple of popular cultural
media seen in a barrage of movies, documentaries, magazines, fiction and non-fiction
books, television shows, newspaper articles and internet sites. The discourses are so
taken-for-granted today that it has become compulsory to think of human others as
normal or abnormal.

The objective of this issue is thus to examine mental health and illness as a social justice
issue by examining social rather than individual deficits. Articles in this issue will shift
the focus and analysis from pathological individualism to social relations, social
structure, social systems, social practices, social organization, and so forth, as
inextricably intertwined human struggle, suffering and pain. We thus welcome papers
that utilize critical conceptual frameworks that may include, but are not limited to, poststructural, as well as, feminist, anti-capitalist, post-colonial and critical race theory.
Topics may include:

historical and/or cross-cultural differences in conceptions of normal and

the historical sociology of psychiatric institutions
discourses of mental disease and/or addiction
criminalization, the courts, corrections
pathologizing resistance
racism and mental health
the political economy and critique of the mental illness and/or
psychopharmaceutical industry
gender, class, ethnicity, age, sexuality and mental health
bullying and social control
social factors and stressors contributing to mental and emotional problems,
mad pride and the experience of psychiatric survivors and patients
the mental health crisis of prisoners
anti-psychiatry literature (Cooper, Laing, Guatarri, Sedgewick, etc)
the DSM and social construction of mental pathology
the organization and effectiveness of treatment programs
human rights and psychiatric abuses
mental/emotional health as a social justice issue
alternatives to psychocentric treatment models
neoliberalism and self-help practices and discourses
the stigma and representation of mental health/illness in popular culture
the sociopolitics of self-harm and suicide
mental health activism
medical marijuana and PTSD
radical trauma work
discourses of dis/ability
death, dying, grief and mental health

Articles should be approximately 6,000 words in length (not including references).

Publishing Schedule:
March 6, 2015: deadline for proposals (350-500 word abstract)
April 6, 2015: notification of acceptance
July 15, 2015: deadline for first drafts (articles are subject to a double
blind peer review process)
Authors are invited to submit a 350-500 word abstract for consideration including
authors affiliations, contact information, and brief biography by email to the guest
Lacey Croft, York University, Department of Sociology, lcroft@yorku.ca
Mandi Gray, York University, Department of Sociology, graym@yorku.ca
Heidi Rimke, University of Winnipeg, Department of Sociology,
About the Journal:
Studies in Social Justice publishes articles on issues dealing with the social, cultural,
economic, political, and philosophical problems associated with the struggle for social
justice. This interdisciplinary journal aims to publish work that links theory to social
change and the analysis of substantive issues. The journal welcomes heterodox
contributions that are critical of established paradigms of inquiry.
The journal focuses on debates that move beyond conventional notions of social justice,
and views social justice as a critical concept that is integral in the analysis of policy
formation, rights, participation, social movements, and transformations. Social justice is
analysed in the context of processes involving nationalism, social and public policy,
globalization, diasporas, culture, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, welfare, poverty, war, and
other social phenomena. It endeavours to cover questions and debates ranging from
governance to democracy, sustainable environments, and human rights, and to introduce
new work on pressing issues of social justice throughout the world.
Website: http://brock.scholarsportal.info/journals/index.php/SSJ

Marsh, I. (2010). Suicide: Foucault, history and truth. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Mills, C. W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rimke, H. (2014). Promoting anthropophobia and misanthrophilia: The violent
extremism risk assessment (VERA) as case study. In J. Shantz
(Ed.), Manufacturing Phobias. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Rimke, H. (2011). The pathological approach to crime: Individually based theories. In
K. Kramar (Ed.), Criminology: Critical Canadian Perspectives (pp.
78-92). Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.
Rimke, H. (2010c). Remembering the sociological imagination: Transdisciplinarity, the
genealogical method, and epistemological politics. International Journal of
Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(1), 239-254.
Rimke, H. (2010b). Beheading aboard a Greyhound bus: Security politics, bloodlust
justice, and the mass consumption of criminalized cannibalism. The Annual
Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research, 1, 172-192.
Rimke, H. (2010a). Consuming fears: Neoliberal in/securities, cannibalization, and
psychopolitics. In J. Shantz (Ed.), Racism and Borders: Representation,
Repression, Resistance (pp. 95-113). New York: Algora Publishing.

Rimke, H. (2003). Constituting transgressive interiorities: C19th psychiatric readings of

Morally Mad Bodies. In A. Arturo (Ed.), Violence and the Body: Race, Gender
and the State (pp. 403-428). Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Rimke, H. (2000). Governing citizens through self-help literature. Cultural Studies,
14(1), 61-78.
Rimke, H., & Brock, D. (2012). The culture of therapy: Psychocentrism in everyday
life. In M. Thomas, R. Raby and D. Brock (Eds.), Power and Everyday
Practices (pp. 182-202). Toronto: Nelson.
Rimke, H., & Hunt, A. (2002). From sinners to degenerates: The medicalization of
morality in the C19th. History of the Human Sciences, 15(1), 59-88.

Recommended Readings:
Rimke, H. (2012). Securing injustice: The psychocriminalization of resistance as
political violent extremism. The Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice
Research, 3, 26-39.
Rimke, H. (2002). From sinners to degenerates: The medicalization of morality in the
C19th. History of the Human Sciences, 15(1), 59-88.
Ryan, W. (2004). The art of savage discovery: Blaming the victim. In L. Heldke and P.
OConnor (Eds.), Oppression, Privilege and Resistance: Theoretical Perspectives
on Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism (pp. 275-285). Boston: McGraw-Hill.