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Indian J Psychiatry. 2006 Jan-Mar; 48(1): 73.
PMCID: PMC2913652

Antipsychiatry: Meeting the challenge


The editorial ‘Antipsychiatry: Meeting the challenge’1 is interesting and thought-provoking. When the discipline of psychiatry was being impacted by the Antipsychiatry movement in the 1970s, there were no comments or even any critique on this topic in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry! It is good to see that our journal, albeit after 35 years, has discussed the issue editorially in the present context; it has also tried to strike a balance between the two opposing views: ‘…the willingness to accept the valid criticisms and the possible abuses or “wrongs” of psychiatry, as well as to be open to a dialogue or multilogue and review of practices if required would not only be strategically sound but also ethically warranted.’

This has opened up possibilities to practice psychiatry not determined by biology alone but a multiverse of episteme that contributes to our knowledge of mental healing. In a recent article, Paul Grobstein, a neuroscientist, has seen science as a culture of ‘story telling and story revising’.2

However, unlike Grobstein, who wanted to keep science within the boundaries of positivism, I would like to comment on the issue of Antipsychiatry and Postpsychiatry. The concept of Antipsychiatry has lost ground in the present context because of its analytical category being oppositional, dichotomous and binary. Such analyses will eventually take a linear and progressive course, proposing another modernist utopia. The concept of Postpsychiatry moved away from this trap and interpreted contemporary changes using tools of continental philosophy including postmodernism. Thomas and Bracken3 have explained the differences between ‘anti’ and ‘critical’ psychiatry and argued why psychiatry needs to be analysed from pluralistic viewpoints by challenging the omnipotence and centrality of a deterministic and positivist position. Similar issues were raised 4 years ago by a scholar from the University of Pittsburgh, USA.4

Our situation is different from Bracken and Bradley because our modernity is received through colonialism and can best be called postcolonial when the debate on de-colonization is quite vibrant.5 For us, psychiatry brings the challenge of negotiating both modern and non-modern discourses and constructing a course of development that acknowledges the multiverse we live in. This may help in generating our own theories of psychiatry.


1. Desai NG. Antipsychiatry: Meeting the challenge [editorial] Indian J Psychiatry. 2005;47:185–7. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Grobstein P. Revisiting science in culture: Science as story telling and story revising. Journal of Research Practice. 2005 1; Article M1 Available from URL: (accessed on 23 December 2005)
3. Thomas P, Bracken P. Critical psychiatry in practice. Adv Psychiatr Treatment. 2004;10:361–70.
4. Lewis B. Psychiatry and postmodern theory. J Med Hum. 2000;21:71–84.
5. Chakrabarty D. Legacies of Bandung: Decolonisation and the politics of culture. Economic and Political Weekly. 2005 Nov 12; Available from URL: (accessed on 8 January 2006)

Les articles de Indian Journal of Psychiatry ont été offerts à titre gracieux par Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow Publications.