In times of massive economic inequity, why do so many Americans consider themselves mentally ill? Exploring the psychological effects of debt, foreclosure, and unemployment, this book shows how our mental health categories are poorly equipped to explain the stresses of the current economy. Philip Browning Helsel provides concrete advice to ministers and counselors wishing to help those struggling with the stress of being a member of the modern working class. ‘Pastoral power’ is the ability to help people define and resist the suffering that results from an unjust economic system. Helsel argues that psychological labels can reduce people to ‘problem-identities’ and make them feel internally responsible for their emotional problems. Drawing from the counter-conducts of pastoral power described by Michel Foucault, and highlighting the testimonies of the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement, this book helps communities resist social class oppression while questioning the oversimplification of mental health pathology.
View a guide of selected resources (PDF) on this topic available through the Libraries.