Changing views of what constitutes a mental illness over the last 180 years

180th Anniversary Webinar

Thursday 26 August 2021

Conceptual evolution of mental illness and psychiatric classification

Psychiatric classifications exist within theoretical approaches which take certain notions of mental illness for granted. This presentation will provide an overview of the historical development of psychiatric classifications with an emphasis on their conceptual presuppositions, and will examine how questions of classification have intersected with questions about the nature of mental illness in modern history. History of psychiatric classification also reveals a tension between descriptive and hypothetical-conjectural approaches, which this lecture will explore. The talk will end with an appreciation of the ongoing controversies reflecting the difficulties inherent in defining and classifying mental illness, with some preliminary remarks on future directions. 


Dr Awais Aftab

View speaker slides (PDF)

Dr Awais Aftab will also be presenting at the Philosophy SIG Conference in September 2021

Chaired by: Dr George Ikkos

Awais Aftab, MD is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, USA, and staff psychiatrist at Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare (Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services). He has been actively involved in initiatives to educate psychiatrists and trainees on the intersection of philosophy, psychiatry, and history. He leads the popular interview series “Conversations in Critical Psychiatry” for Psychiatric Times, which engages with commentators within and outside the profession who have made meaningful criticisms of the status quo. He is an executive council member of the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry and senior media editor for the journal Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry