Bad Souls: Madness and Responsibility in Modern Greece

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"How to write a history of madness and a genealogy of ethics at the borders of Europe's psyche and within the complex confines of neo-liberalism's demand that subjects govern themselves? Poetic in form and writing without ever loosening its grip of argument and analysis, Bad Souls is a searing ethnographic account of how mental health, Greek nationalism, and contemporary truth emerge in the fraught fault line between patients' struggles to maintain their minds and psychiatry's struggle to maintain its therapeutic and diagnostic hold on the order of truth in the domain of the other." Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism "Bad Souls is a remarkable study of psychiatry in northern Greece. From the intimacy of the therapeutic encounter to the impersonality of state bureaucracy, Elizabeth Anne Davis describes the way neoliberal assumptions have led to the often divergent reformulations of the psychiatric. A brilliant book." Vincent Crapanzano, author of The Harkis: The Wound That Never Heals "In Bad Souls, Elizabeth Anne Davis examines how the treatment of mental illness in contemporary Greece hinges on an underlying conflict: navigating and diffusing the moral responsibility for care between patients, doctors, and the state, as well as families and communities... Bad Souls provides a compelling and detailed examination of ethics, relationality, medicine, and citizenship in modern Greece. This is also a story, a self-proclaimed study of "madness," about the investigator's ethical onus to attend carefully to human suffering and its complex formations and inexplicable silences." - Noelle Mole, H-SAE, February 2013 "Davis argues that psychiatry in Greece is based on the uncertainty of the premises of psychiatric practice globally regarding diagnosis, clinical encounters and treatment, but that in Thrace this is accompanied by a moralism of responsibility. Rather than opportunities opening up for patients within this programme of deinstitutionalisation and psychiatric reform, patients become instead isolated from 'worlds of meaning' (p. 6), and exiled into a community where responsibility for care falls upon the self. Failing this, they adopt a contingency of dependence through forms of pathology. Davis represents the parameters of freedom for former inpatients, delineated through therapeutic relationships that focus more on cooperation than negotiation. The author draws on extensive fieldwork using an ethnographic approach to describe psychiatric services and clinical encounters. Case studies illustrate contradictions and problems around care and responsibility experienced by patients and their therapists" - Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, May 2013 "In Bad souls Elizabeth Davis considers the paradoxical consequences of twenty years of reform to Greek mental health services on the basis of ethnography conducted in various clinical psychiatric contexts in Thrace. The book presents a bold and articulate analysis of responsibility - that of medical practitioners to the programme of reform (and to professional ideals), and that of patients to the expectations placed upon them by clinicians." - Charles Stewart, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Vom Verlag:

Bad Souls is an ethnographic study of responsibility among psychiatric patients and their caregivers in Thrace, the north-eastern borderland of Greece. Elizabeth Anne Davis examines responsibility in this rural region through the lens of national psychiatric reform, a process designed to shift treatment from custodial hospitals to outpatient settings. Challenged to help care for themselves, patients struggled to function in communities that often seemed as much sources of mental pathology as sites of refuge. Davis documents these patients' singular experience of community, and their ambivalent aspirations to health, as they grappled with new forms of autonomy and dependency introduced by psychiatric reform. Planned, funded, and overseen largely by the European Union, this "democratic experiment," one of many reforms adopted by Greece since its accession to the EU in the early 1980s, has led Greek citizens to question the state and its administration of human rights, social welfare, and education. Exploring the therapeutic dynamics of diagnosis, persuasion, healing, and failure in Greek psychiatry, Davis traces the terrains of truth, culture, and freedom that emerge from this questioning of the state at the borders of Europe.

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