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Mad in America: Rethinking Mental Health

The Mad in America podcast, hosted by James Moore, examines mental health with a critical eye by speaking with psychologists, psychiatrists and people with lived experience.

When you hear such conversations, you realise that much of what is believed to be settled in mental health is actually up for debate. Is mental health a matter of faulty biology or is there more to it? Are the treatments used in psychiatry helpful or harmful in the long term? Are psychiatric diagnoses reliable? With the help of our guests, we examine these questions and so much more. 

This podcast is part of Mad in America’s mission to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care and mental health. We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, calls for profound change. 

On the podcast over the coming weeks, we will have interviews with experts and those with lived experience of the psychiatric system. Thank you for joining us as we discuss the many issues around rethinking mental health around the world.

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Jan 6, 2021

Thomas Teo is a Professor of Psychology in the Historical, Theoretical, and Critical Studies of Psychology Program at York University, Toronto, Canada. He has spent his 20+ year career challenging the status quo in academic psychology. His unique approach to research has been described as both critical and meta-psychological. He often takes the discipline of psychology itself, including its methods and assumptions, as the target of his analysis.

He is currently the co-editor of the Review of General Psychology (Sage), editor of the Palgrave Studies in the Theory and History of Psychology, and co-editor of the Palgrave Studies in Indigenous Psychology. He is the former president of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology, of the American Psychological Association’s Society of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (Division 24), and former chair of the History and Philosophy of Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association. He has a research record with more than 200 academic publications and refereed conference presentations.

In this interview, Teo expounds upon concepts covered in a recent Science News Article and explains what it means for him to be a critical psychologist. He outlines how, as he became disappointed with the general state of psychology in Western Europe and the Americas, he sought alternative approaches that could better account for how culture, society, and economics are entangled with psychology. This led him to look more closely at historical examples of fascism, as well as postcolonial authors, to better understand how the psychosocial dimensions of social power operate in the world today. As he explains, this has important implications for how we think about psychiatry, mental health, and disability.

Teo concludes the interview by foreshadowing some of his future work, which will further build on his concept of subhumanism to examine how subjectivity is shaped by the premium placed on certain lives. In contrast, others are constructed as less-than-human under neoliberal capitalism.