The Politics of Coming Out: Stigma and Biomedical Models of Mental Disorder

  • Author / Creator
    Thachuk, Angela K
  • Drawing from philosophical, clinical, sociological, and activist literatures, my work critically analyses the deployment of biomedical models of mental disorder as a means of targeting stigma. I argue that “the stigma of mental illness,” when conceptualized within a biomedical framework, functions to 1) incite a multitude of discourses surrounding mental disorder, 2) extend the reaches of psychiatric surveillance and classification, and 3) streamline individuals and populations into particular modes of conceptualizing and disciplining the self. I argue that the rhetoric of stigma creates a series of new confessional venues, and determines the language and grammar through which mental disorder is made to speak. As a result of these scripts, counter narratives are outlawed, and their authors (i.e. consumer/survivor/ex-patient and Mad Pride activists) are routinely denied advantages accrued by socially authorized truth-tellers. I therefore conclude that the biomedical framing of anti-stigma rhetoric and discourse is, in part, complicit with the power relations that mark some individuals as mad. As such, anti-stigma discourse does not represent a radical break or historico-political rupture with “the stigma of mental illness” but is derivative of it. In light of these issues, I seek to develop an account of how we think about the functioning of, and relationship between, knowledge and power within anti-stigma discourse. My overarching concern, therefore, is not with what stigma is, but resides rather with what talking about stigma does.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Philosophy
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Heyes, Cressida (Philosophy)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Welchman, Jennifer (Philosophy)
    • McWhorter, Ladelle (Philosophy, University of Richmond)
    • Austin, Wendy (Nursing)
    • Morton, Adam (Philosophy)