Sickening Institutions: A Feminist Sociological Analysis and Critique of Religion, Medicine, and Psychiatry

  • Heidi RimkeEmail author


This chapter seeks to outline the ways in which psy-hegemony operates in Western medicine by analyzing the emergence of pathological individualism since the nineteenth century. Contextualized within, and directly related to the way social relations of power, knowledge, and inequality have historically been structured in contemporary society, the chapter provides a feminist sociological framework that theoretically analyzes, critiques, and challenges the assumptions and problems of patriarchal or dominant ‘psy’ discourses and institutions. The discussion provides the sociological groundwork for approaching women’s distress and struggles as socially structured problems rather than the consequence of flaws or defects of abnormal individuals as seen in the current and popular ‘broken brain hypothesis’. To do so, the chapter outlines patriarchal forces and discusses the theory of psychocentrism to politicize and critique the culture of therapy in contemporary neoliberalism as a ‘sickening society’ invested in individualism, stigmatization, and pathologization. The chapter implicitly questions the over-therapization and thus depoliticization of women’s issues as the sole means to address the individual consequences of socially based problems. Instead, feminist intersectional approaches to women’s mental health should concentrate on creating a non-psychocentric world whose objective is collective care, concern, and cooperation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

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