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EGENIS seminar: "Pain and suffering: Racialized immigrant women’s compliance and defiance to psychiatric discourses and treatments in Canada", Dr Shahina Parvin (Brandon University)

Egenis seminar series

This presentation engages in an intersectional interrogation of psychiatric discourses, categorization, and treatments. I present findings from interviews with 13 racialized immigrant women in rural Canada with diverse cultural and geopolitical backgrounds reflect on psychiatric discourses. After describing how their pain was categorized and treated by mental health professionals, I analyse how the women either fully complied with the medicalisation and psychiatrisation processes associated with their diagnoses, or chose to strategically comply with or refuse mental health discourses.

Event details

The findings highlight that the women’s diagnoses and treatments are gendered, ableist, and colonial, and women’s distress was identified as a solely biological problem by their physicians. I argue that the prescribed treatments obscured the interlocking power relations that contributed to the women’s emotional damage. Ultimately, I interrogate the psychiatrisation of human suffering as pathology and distress as a ‘mental disorder’ as this process dismisses alternative ways of understanding pain in diverse contexts. I aim to offer a rethinking of the biomedical conceptualization of ‘mental illness’ as a natural and universally occurring pathology. 

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