Sociology | Mental Illness
S324 | 3677 | Eliza Pavalko


Public health officials estimate that four out of the ten leading
causes of disability are due to mental illnesses and that nearly one
out of five Americans will experience a mental disorder this year.  In
the U.S. and abroad, antidepressants and other drugs for mental
disorders are among the most heavily prescribed of all drugs.  Despite
their common occurrence and devastating impact on individuals and
society, as a society, our treatment of these disorders remains
controversial and misunderstood.  Individuals experiencing a mental
disorder must not only deal with the disorder itself, but also the
stigma and public reaction to mental illness.

This course will critically examine the social dimensions of mental
illness through four levels of analysis.  First, we will examine
mental illness at the individual level, focusing on the definition,
diagnosis and prevalence of mental illness.  Second, we will examine
societal and group reactions to mental illness, including attention to
current public attitudes and implications of stigma about mental
illness.  The third section will examine programs for treating mental
illness and explore both the dangers and promise of different
treatment options.  The final section will examine societal issues
related to mental health treatment including legal issues and how that
relates to social problems such as homelessness and the insanity
defense, and health insurance and how we pay for mental health care.

Course requirements:

Course requirements include class participation (in class and web
discussions)  4 exams and several take home, open book essays.
Students also have an option of doing a research paper in place of one

Readings will include:

Kaysen, Susanna.  1993  Girl, Interrupted.  Turtle Bay Books.
Sheehan, Susan  1982.  Is There No Place on Earth for Me?  Vintage
Hurley, Jennifer  1999.  Current Controversies: Mental Health.
Greenhaven Press.