Race and gender in philosophy of psychiatry: Science, relativism, and phenomenology

In K. W. M. Fulford (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry. Oxford University Press (2013)
This chapter focuses on a critical analysis of particular theoretical frameworks in psychiatry in their interplay with issues of race and gender. Analysis shows that theoretical perspective is one of the most important factors in play in working toward the goal of eliminating racism and sexism from psychiatry. To this end, four types of theoretical frameworks are considered: naturalism, social constructionism, relativism and antirelativism, and phenomenology. Also considered are efforts to show the compatibility of two different frameworks. Each framework is explored and critiqued regarding its potential to expose and correct racist and sexist attitudes that are incorporated into research and treatment in psychiatry. Included are discussions of the relevance of realism and antirealism in evaluating theoretical frameworks, as well as evaluation of theoretical claims regarding the roles of biology, genetics, the medical model, and culture in either sustaining or counteracting racism and sexism in psychiatry, including psychoanalysis. Finally, Husserlian phenomenology is suggested as a philosophical framework for psychiatry that can transcend the limitations of the other frameworks discussed. Phenomenology enables psychiatry, including psychology and psychoanalysis, to constitute itself as a science that transcends both constructionist relativism and naturalistic reductionism.
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DOI 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199579563.013.0012
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