Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Psychological Anthropology
Primary Theme: Ethics
Secondary Theme: Health
In the last decade, a growing interest in an explicit theorization of moral and ethical dimensions of human life has given rise to the “ethical turn” in anthropology (Fassin and Leze 2013; Faubion 2011; Keane 2015; Laidlaw 2014; Lambek 2010; Mattingly 2012; Robbins 2013; Zigon 2008).
In parallel, medical and psychological anthropologists have been increasingly tracing the complexities of clinicians’ “ethical self-fashioning” (Shaw and Armin 2011), attending to the everyday ethical deliberation that clinicians engage in (Brodwin 2008, 2011, 2013), and exploring the morally fraught dimensions of clinical encounters (Mattingly 2010, 2014).
Recent ethnographies set in mental health care settings – such as Elizabeth Davis’ (2012) book on the emergent ethics of responsibility in Greek psychiatry, Rebecca Lester’s (2009) work on the ethics of care in an eating disorder clinic, and Neely Myers’ (2015) book about the role of moral agency in recovery – have been developing a vocabulary that is particularly rich with ethical and moral resonances. This panel is meant to both continue and reflect upon this burgeoning area of work. Drawing on ethnographies of clinical training, practice, or encounters, the papers in this session will speak to a range of questions: How do the theories and conceptual innovations associated with the “ethical turn” enrich the anthropological study of "psy" fields (psychiatry, psychology, counseling, psychotherapy, social work, etc.)? How can anthropologists do justice to the moral complexity of mental health care professionals and institutions, while also fully appreciating and accounting for their embeddedness within larger systems of power? Conversely, what can these ethnographies of clinical training and practice offer to the theoretical debates that are unfolding in the anthropology of ethics and morality? Specifically, how can they enrich, extend, or even trouble the conversations around moral selfhood and ethical decision-making?