Is mental illness socially constructed?

McCann, Joseph J. ORCID logo ORCID: (2016) Is mental illness socially constructed? Journal of Applied Psychology and Social Science, 2 (1). pp. 1-11.

[thumbnail of McCann_IsMentalIllness.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License CC BY

Download (234kB) | Preview
Official URL:


This paper will critically analyse, how the use of a bio-medical model, philosophically rooted in positivism and a diagnostic language that confuses “truth” with diagnostic perspectives has led to an obsession with “compliance” on a global scale and a failure to recognize how medical discourses have negatively influenced how peoples’ illnesses are experienced, depicted and viewed within society, with specific reference to schizophrenia (Walker, 2006). There have been endeavours by psychologists to homogenize language classification and diagnostic systems across cultures, making the diagnostic criteria universal (Marsella & Yamada, 2010). However, this ethnocentric bias has led to frequent misdiagnosis and ethical harms as it is often taken for granted how certain illnesses are culturally taboo and have particular social and cultural stigmas (Conrad & Barker, 2010; Hassim & Wagner, 2013; Li, Hatzidimitriadou & Psoninos, 2014). This paper concludes that current diagnostic systems are too positivist and clinicians need to aware of the social constructionist element in the diagnosis of mental illness.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Journal of Applied Psychology and Social Science
Publisher: University of Cumbria
Departments: Academic Departments > Health, Psychology & Social Studies (HPSS) > Applied Psychology and Social Studies
Additional Information: Joseph McCann is a postgraduate research student in psychology at the University of Cumbria, UK.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 31 May 2016 10:22
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 15:45


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

Edit Item