CCHU9022 Humanities
Journey into Madness: Conceptions of Mental Health and Mental Illness


 

Course Description

Portrayed by mass media, there is an exaggerated link between mental illness and violence. Mental illness is often considered as an adversary that should be dealt with by medical professionals. Challenging this monopolized medical discourse on mental illness, this course aims to expand the students’ view to appreciate how mental illness has been psychologically influenced, socially constructed and policed, as well as culturally shaped. Coupling biochemistry’s knowledge of mental illness with self-reflections, students are expected to develop a critical and comprehensive understanding of mental illness and mental health. With the use of experiential exercises, case studies, and film viewing, students will be further encouraged to scrutinize mental health issues in their daily lives. As there is a growing number of individuals challenged by mental illnesses both locally and internationally, students will have high chance of encountering an individual with mental illnesses in their social circles, workplaces or even family in the future. The development of a comprehensive and critical view towards mental illnesses will definitely prepare them to face this future challenge.

[All students are required to attend a half-day field trip to a mental health related hospital / non-governmental organization during Reading Week. The field trip is compulsory and if interested students foresee that they cannot attend the field trip, they should not be enrolling in this course.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe conceptions of mental health and mental illness.
  2. Critically appraise the contributions and limitations of the various conceptions of mental health and mental illness.
  3. Understand how certain mental health issues have been conceived and defined through a dynamic interplay of various biomedical, psychological, sociological and cultural perspectives.
  4. Develop cultural sensitivity towards intercultural differences in understanding and responding to issues in mental health and mental illness.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 54
Visit 3
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 8
Assessment: Reflective journal 20
Assessment: Video production 8
Assessment: Video report 10
Total: 135

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 20
Reflection paper 40
Video production 15
Group proposal and report 15

Required Reading

  • Alloy, L. B., Riskind, J. H., & Manos, M. J. (2005). Abnormal psychology: Current perspectives. New York: McGraw-Hill. [Excerpt on behavioural, cognitive, and sociocultural perspectives, pp.75-104; The psychodynamic perspective, pp. 105-122]
  • Fillingham, L. A. (1993). Madness and civilization. In Foucault for beginners (pp. 26-58). New York: Writers and Readers Publishing.
  • Foucault, M. (1972, 2006). Experiences of madness. In The history of madness (pp. 108-115). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. [Excerpt]
  • Lin, K. M. (1981). Traditional Chinese medical beliefs and their relevance for mental illness and psychiatry. In A. Kleinman & Y. Y. Lin (Eds.), Normal and abnormal behavior in Chinese culture (pp. 95-111). Hingham, MA: D. Reidel.
  • Luchins, D. J. (2004). At issue: Will the term brain disease reduce stigma and promote parity for mental illnesses? Schizophrenia Bulletin, 30(4), 1043-1048.
  • Rosenhan, D. L. (1973). On being sane in insane places, Science, 179 (4070), 250-258.
  • Watters, E. (2010). The mega-marketing of depression in Japan. The globalization of the American psyche (pp. 87-213). New York: Free Press. [Excerpt]
  • Yap, P. M. (2000). Mental diseases peculiar to certain cultures: A survey of comparative psychiatry. In R. Littlewood & S. Dein (Eds.), Cultural psychiatry and medical anthropology (pp. 179-196). New Brunswick, NJ: The Athlone Press.

Recommended Reading

  • Bracken, P., & Thomas, P. (2001). Postpsychiatry: A new direction for mental health. British Medical Journal, 322(7288), 724-727.
  • Brooks, R.A. (2000). Official madness: A cross-cultural study of involuntary civil confinement based on “mental illness”. In J. Hubert (Ed.), Madness, disability and social exclusion: The archaeology and anthropology of “difference” (pp. 9-28). New York: Routledge.
  • Ng, V. W. (1990). Madness in Chinese Culture. In Madness in late imperial China: From illness to deviance. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. [pp.25-62]
  • Pereira, B., Andrew, G., Pednekar, S., Pai, R., Pelto, P., & Patel, V. (2007). The explanatory models of depression in low income countries: Listening to women in India. Journal of Affective Disorders, 102, 209-218.
  • Pilgrim, D., & Bentall, R. (1999). The medicalisation of misery: A critical realist analysis of the concept of depression. Journal of Mental Health, 8, 261-274.
  • Pouncey, C. L. & Lukens, J. M. (2010). Madness versus badness: The ethical tension between the recovery movement and forensic psychiatry. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 31, 93-1005.
  • Stein, D. J., Phillips, K. A., Bolton, D., Fulford, K. W. M., Sadler, J. Z., & Kendler, K. S. (in press). What is a mental/psychiatric disorder? From DSM-IV to DSM-V. Psychological Medicine.
  • Szasz, T. S. (1974). The myth of mental illness: Foundations of a theory of personal conduct (Rev. ed.). New York: Harper & Row.
  • Wilkinson, S. (2000). Is “normal grief” a mental disorder? The Philosophical Quarterly, 50(200), 290-304.

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr P.W.C. Wong
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 5029
Email: paulw@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr P.W.C. Wong
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 5029
Email: paulw@hku.hk