2023 Conference on Critical Psychiatry Mailing List
Put your email below to join our mailing list for information on the 2023 Conference on Critical Psychiatry (CCP), slated to take place the weekend of April 1 - April 2, 2023.

(The rest of this text box is just FAQs + further conference details. If you just want to join the mailing list, we recommend scrolling past this information.)

Is this conference in-person? We are excited to offer limited in-person programming (to be held in Nashville, TN) but the conference is generally speaking virtual.
Have you all selected speakers yet? No, we will likely take proposals for posters and oral presentations from mid-late December through early-mid February. These are not exclusively for academics, so please feel free to submit something :)
Will there be continuing education units (CEUs)? CEUs are necessary for maintaining licensure in several psy-disciplines, e.g., clinical social work. We do plan on providing CEUs this year - we provided them last year - but cannot confirm specifics at this time.
What is critical psychiatry? Critical psychiatry, as we understand it, is a broad term that encompasses diverse methods of critiquing the dominant ideologies of the psy-disciplines (e.g., psychiatry, but also psychotherapy, neuropsychology, and so forth). It might be considered the application of critical theory to the development and current state of the psy-disciplines. This might sound complicated, but it really just means we are interested in how politics and social conditions both shape and, in some ways, are shaped by the psy-disciplines, and how this intersects with scientific considerations around diagnosis, explanation, and treatment. Some classic topics of interest in critical psychiatry are: the limitations of the medical model in mental health, the relationship and power imbalances between psy-professionals and service users, critical perspectives on psychopharmacology, and the politics of diagnosis, etc.

TLDR: The CCP hopes to confront current bottlenecks in mental health reform and movement-building by providing panels, roundtables, and other events to highlight diverse perspectives and the value added from transdisciplinary, scholar-activist, community-engaged dialogue.
The CCP began in 2022 as the Vanderbilt Critical Psychiatry Conference when undergraduates at Vanderbilt University (in Nashville, TN, USA) observed that there was a lack of accessible and transdisciplinary conversation about the ethics, practice, and evidence base for psychiatry. The 2022 Vanderbilt Critical Psychiatry Conference was planned to be held in-person, at Vanderbilt, but due to the Omicron breakout that took place in early 2022, the Conference instead occurred online. To our surprise, this boosted signal significantly, and even with just minor online promotion, over 200 attendees were able to attend and hear panels/roundtables on topics like psychiatric coercion, scientific controversies within the psy- discplines, and patient-clinician dynamics (e.g., medical gaze). Each panel was transdisciplinary in nature, and speakers included academics from anthropology, sociology, psychiatry, health policy, and clinical psychology as well as non-academics ranging from high school to graduate students interested in community organizing. A poster session including over 20 student projects was also available online.

Because of the success of the online format in 2022, the 2023 Conference will also be held online, with some programming available in-person for those who live in the middle-Tennessee region. (Example in-person programming includes live-streams of all talks, fishbowl discussions, and networking, with a special emphasis on promoting dialogue across backgrounds, e.g., creating space for conversation between local therapists and local activists.)

In Fall 2022, as our work picked up this time with organizers from across the United States and beyond, we rebranded from the Vanderbilt Critical Psychiatry Conference to the Conference on Critical Psychiatry. This captures our grander vision, which is to establish a touchstone conference for inclusive and transdisciplinary dialogue that therefore promotes innovative, practical, and diverse dialogue to as many people as possible.

We believe that critical spaces as they currently exist are limited in terms of who they reach, who they include, and who they get taken seriously by. These limitations in turn restrict movement building and practical change. For one example, Twitter, Discord, email, and other "unofficial" venues where critical discourse frequently occurs are frequently dismissed. This is likely due to format (280-character tweets cannot effectively capture nuance) or the very nature of said platforms (e.g., those in power may place stock in formal academic writing but not claims shared over social media). Critical psychiatry is in turn frequently reduced to simple "anti-science" rhetoric similar to flat earth and anti-vax conspiracies. On the other hand, some peer-reviewed journal articles or newspaper columns have been published by critical psychiatrists, but this comes with its own issues. Critiques of the psy-disciplines are taken more seriously in these cases, but by way of being technical and in many cases paywalled, they often exclude affected and minoritized populations. These academic critiques may also be dismissed as coming from disciplines not recognized as scientifically rigorous (sociology, anthropology, philosophy, history, and so forth). Conversely, when effective critiques are provided by academics like psychiatrists, they may be dismissed as being nonetheless complicit. In sum, communication and collaboration across fields and backgrounds has been a serious bottleneck for movement-building and reform. The CCP hopes to confront these challenges by providing panels, roundtables, and other events that highlight diverse perspectives and the value added from transdisciplinary, scholar-activist, community-engaged dialogue.

Questions: contact the director, joseph sexton, over email - joseph.f.sexton [at] vanderbilt [dot] edu
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