Call for Papers on Biological vs Biopsychosocial Approaches to the Brain and Mind


Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia is inviting scholars, clinicians, and students in the medical, social, and human sciences to participate in a conference exploring the differences between those researchers who “hope to find the cause of mental illness in the biology of the brain” and the “vocal contingent” that’s “discontented with what they see as an overly narrow view” and that tends to “eschew models that privilege neuroscience.”

“Can psychiatry explain — much less treat — the ‘biopsychosocial’ illnesses by reducing them to underlying diseases of the brain? Or must psychiatry make room for perspectives in psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and progress as a humanist branch of medicine?” a press release about the conference asks.

Suggested themes for papers include, “What is the relation of aesthetics (e.g. literature, film) to psychology?”, “What can a renewed focus on culture and society teach us about specific mental illnesses, such as eating disorders, depression, or anxiety?” and “Can society itself be ‘sick?’’

The organizers invite 250-word abstracts by October 3rd, 2014. The full press release is on the h-madness blog.

Call for Paper – Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference – Psychiatry Student Interest Group Network (h-madness, September 11, 2014)


  1. Are we now being considered a “vocal contingent”? If so, it sounds like at least they’re beginning to hear us, which is good. And anyone with a well functioning brain in their head should logically and innately know that, of course, psychiatry cannot “explain – much less treat – the ‘biopsychosocial’ illnesses by reducing them to underlying diseases of the brain.” How incredibly one dimensionally minded, even inane, a person must be to think life is that simple.

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  2. Picked my question from the page.

    “What does psychiatry tell us about our own culture, historically and today; Is the practice of psychiatry itself shaped by the forces in our society?”

    One thing I note from the questions is the presumption of what psychiatry actually is. There is this automatic belief that it is somehow designed to assist people who are in distress etc. Good medical people doing their bit to help those in need. Why is the ugly face of the profession so well hidden? And yet also in plain sight.

    I think what it tells us about our own culture is that certain subcultures can be stigmatised and subjected to the most vile human rights abuses at the drop of a hat. Is that shaped by wider forces in society? Of course, Big Pharma has psychiatrists labelling large swathes of the population as ill to sell pills. Macro, but don’t start examining the micro, that’s were the really ugly face can be seen.

    Maybe title my submission “The Mad Mullahs of Manhattan”. Examine some cases where people have been subjected to years of psychiatric abuse and torture for minor moral infractions.

    Might be worth following up on some of the work that is submitted. Make alliances with anyone who produces good critical work.

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