Identity or Diagnosis? Reflecting on Current Challenges for Psychiatry (video)

Thursday April 21st @ 18:00 [online]

Topic: Identity or Diagnosis? Reflecting on Current Challenges for Psychiatry

Speaker: Dr Chloe Saunders

This seminar is about ideas that concepts of identity and psychiatric diagnosis have become confused and entwined in society. To bring a focus to a sprawling subject, the discussion will centre around a familiar clinical scenario: the self-diagnosed patient who would not attract the diagnosis they seek, were they not to seek it.

We will explore, through a historical and sociological lens, what it means to have an illness identity and why people are increasingly coming to psychiatry clinics looking for recognition of their self-diagnoses. I also consider whether this is a problem, and what sort of response it merits inside and outside the clinic. To answer this I draw on theories of Personal and Group Identity and discuss the literature on what we know about how illness identities form on social media. I also consider the role of the psychiatric diagnostic system and questions of epistemic authority.

I hope to offer a framework and open a discussion about how psychiatrists can negotiate such encounters most helpfully, and how we should think about our simultaneous roles as ‘diagnosers’ and ‘gate-keepers’ in this post-stigma era of mental health care.

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