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The Sociology of Mental Illness

A Comprehensive Reader

Jane D. McLeod and Eric R. Wright

Publication Date - April 2009

ISBN: 9780195381719

880 pages
6 1/2 X 9 1/4 inches

A comprehensive collection of readings designed to help students develop a nuanced and sophisticated appreciation of the most important, heated--and fascinating--controversies in the field of mental illness


The Sociology of Mental Illness is a comprehensive collection of readings designed to help students develop a nuanced and sophisticated appreciation of the most important, heated--and fascinating--controversies in the field.

Drawing primarily from sociological sources, the text features both classical and contemporary selections that cover the full range of sociological topics, perspectives, and debates, including the social construction of mental illness, the social origins of mental illness, and contemporary mental health treatment. This rich, varied assortment gives students a "roadmap" to the evolution and development of sociological research over time and insight into key controversies in the field.

Selections include such classical readings as Scheff's original statement of labeling theory, contemporary reports on the prevalence of mental illness in countries around the world, and recent analyses of the changing treatment system. The readings are organized progressively in order to help students recognize the dynamic character of mental health research and the important role that controversies play in advancements in the field; this organization also gives students the tools they need to formulate their own views and opinions on crucial matters.

A versatile, engaging text, The Sociology of Mental Illness is ideal for undergraduate and graduate courses in the sociology of mental illness.

About the Author(s)

Jane D. McLeod is Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculties Department of Sociology at Indiana University-Bloomington.

Eric R. Wright is Professor and Director of the Center for Health Policy, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.


"I wholeheartedly agree with the authors that a new book for courses in the sociology of mental health and illness is needed. The books on today's market are overly psychological, too brief, or too narrow to provide a full discourse of the sociological research and theory on this subject. I like McLeod and Wright's de-emphasis on disorder classification, reversing a major sociological failure of several competing books. I also like their emphasis on social construction approaches. This book can serve either as a stand-alone text or a companion book for courses in the sociology of mental health and illness. I would be highly likely to adopt this book as a primary text in an undergraduate course."--Allen Furr, University of Louisville

Table of Contents

    What Is Mental Illness? Psychiatric Perspectives
    Medical Model of Madness: The Emergence of Mental Illness, Peter Conrad and Joseph W. Schneider
    Mental Illness as Psychiatric Disorder, Martha Livingston Bruce
    What Is Mental Illness? Sociological Perspectives
    The Discovery of Hyperkinesis, Peter Conrad
    The Three Faces of PMS: The Professional, Gendered, and Scientific Structuring of a Psychiatric Disorder, Anne E. Figert
    Culture and the Definition of Mental Illness
    What Is a Psychiatric Diagnosis?, Arthur Kleinman
    Did Antidepressants Depress Japan?, Kathryn Schultz
    The Measurement of Mental Health and Mental Illness
    Issues in Mental Health Assessment, Galen E. Switzer, Mary Amanda Dew, and Evelyn J. Bromet
    The Categorical Versus Dimensional Controversy in the Sociology of Mental Illness, Ronald C. Kessler
    Measurement for a Human Science, John Mirowsky and Catherine E. Ross
    Current Prevalence Estimates in the United States
    Prevalence and Treatment of Mental Disorders, 1990-2003, Ronald C. Kessler, Olga Demler, Richard G. Frank, Mark Olfson, Harold Alan Pincus, Ellen E. Walters, Phillip Wang, Kenneth B. Wells, and Alan M. Zaslavsky
    The Epidemic in Mental Illness: Clinical Fact or Survey Artifact?, Allan V.Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield
    Current Cross-National Prevalence Estimates
    Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of Mental Disorders in the World Health Organizations' World Mental Health Survey Initiative, Ronald C. Kessler et al. for the WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium
    Basic Concepts
    Research in Mental Health: Social Etiology versus Social Consequences, Carol S. Aneshensel
    The Sociological Study of Stress, Leonard I. Pearlin
    Multiple Identities and Psychological Well-Being: A Reformulation and Test of the Social Isolation Hypothesis, Peggy A. Thoits
    The Epidemiology of Social Stress, R. Jay Turner, Blair Wheaton, and Donald A. Lloyd
    Roles, Social Statuses, and Mental Health
    Sex Differences in Distress: Real or Artifact?, John Mirowsky and Catherine E. Ross
    Revisiting the Relationships among Gender, Marital Status, and Mental Health, Robin W. Simon
    Clarifying the Relationship between Parenthood and Depression, Ranae J. Evenson and Robin W. Simon
    Low Socioeconomic Status and Mental Disorders: A Longitudinal Study of Selection and Causation during Young Adulthood, Richard A. Miech, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E. Moffitt, Bradley R. Entner Wright, and Phil A. Silva
    Recession and Well-Being, Mark Tausig and Rudy Fenwick
    Racial Differences in Physical and Mental Health: Socioeconomic Status, Stress, and Discrimination, David R. Williams, Yan Yu, James S. Jackson, and Norman B. Anderson
    Childhood Parental Loss and Adult Depression, Jane D. McLeod
    Status, Role, and Resource Explanations for Age Patterns in Psychological Distress, Scott Schieman, Karen van Gundy, and John Taylor
    The Struggle to Gauge a War's Psychological Cost, Benedict Carey
    The Role of the Mentally Ill and the Dynamics of Mental Disorder: A Research Framework, Thomas Scheff
    Societal Reaction as an Explanation of Mental Illness: An Evaluation, Walter R. Gove
    A Modified Labeling Theory Approach to Mental Disorders: An Empirical Assessment, Bruce G. Link, Francis T. Cullen, Elmer Struening, Patrick E. Shrout, and Bruce P. Dohrenwend
    Americans' Views of Mental Illness and Health at Century's End: Continuity and Change, Bernice A. Pescosolido, Jack K. Martin, Bruce G. Link, Saeko Kikuzawa, Giovanni Burgos, Ralph Swindle, and Jo Phelan
    Help-Seeking and Utilization
    The Moral Career of the Mental Patient, Erving Goffman
    The Social Dynamics of Responding to Mental Health Problems, Bernice A. Pescosolido, Carol A. Boyer, and Keri M. Lubell
    Illness and Identity, David Karp
    Sociohistorical Perspectives on Mental Health Treatment and Policy
    The New World of the Asylum, David J. Rothman
    Cycles of Reform in the Care of the Chronically Mentally Ill, Joseph P. Morrissey and Howard H. Goldman
    Psychiatric Hospital Capacity, Homelessness, and Crime Arrest Rates, Fred E. Markowitz
    Sociological Perspectives on Contemporary Mental Health Care and Treatment
    Psychiatric Emergency Room Decision
    Making, Social Control and the 'Undeserving Sick,' Alisa Lincoln
    Labeling Mental Illness: The Effects of Received Services and Perceived Stigma on Life Satisfaction, Sarah Rosenfield
    Communities of Care: A Theoretical Perspective on Case Management Models in Mental Health, Bernice A. Pescosolido, Eric R. Wright, and William Patrick Sullivan
    Reluctant Managers and Ideologies of Care, Teresa L. Sheid
    Mental Illness and the Family
    Caregiver Stress and Dimensions of Family Burden, Harriet Lefley
    Navigating the Storm of Mental Illness: Phases in the Family's Journey, Susan A. Muhlbauer
    Mental Illness and Social Problems
    Police as Streetcorner Psychiatrist: Managing the Mentally Ill, Linda A. Teplin and
    Nancy S. Pruett
    Mental Disorder and Violence: An Examination of Stressful Life Events and Social Support, Eric Silver and Brent Teasdale
    Assessing the Economic Costs of Serious Mental Illness, Thomas R. Insel
    There's No Place Like (a) Home: Ontological Security Among Persons with Serious Mental Illness in the United States, Deborah K. Padgett
    The Consumer and Family Movements
    From Ex-patient Alternatives to Consumer Options: Consequences of Consumerism for Psychiatric Consumers and the Ex-patient Movement, Athena Helen McLean
    The Future of the Mental Health Care System
    Fixing the System, E. Fuller Torrey
    Excerpts from the executive summary of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health's final report