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Extraordinary conditions : culture and experience in mental illness / Janis H. Jenkins.

  • Jenkins, Janis H.
  • Books

About this work


"With fine-tuned ethnographic sensibility, Jenkins explores the lived experience of psychosis, trauma, and depression among people of diverse cultural orientations, eloquently showing how mental illness engages fundamental human processes of self, desire, gender, identity, attachment, and meaning. Her studies illustrate the shaping of human reality and subjectivity in light of extreme psychological suffering, and shed light on psycho-political processes of alterity, precarity, and repression in the social rendering of the mentally ill as non-human or less than fully human. Extraordinary Conditions addresses the critical need to empathically engage the experience of persons living with conditions that are culturally defined as mental illness. Jenkins compellingly shows that mental illness is better characterized in terms of struggle than symptoms and that culture matters vitally in all aspects of mental illness from onset to recovery. Analysis at this edge of experience refashions the boundaries between ordinary and extraordinary, routine and extreme, healthy and pathological. The book argues that the study of mental illness is indispensable to anthropological understanding of culture and experience, and reciprocally that understanding culture and experience is critical to the study of mental illness. While anthropology neglects the extraordinary to its theoretical and empirical peril, psychiatry neglects culture to its theoretical and clinical peril"--Provided by publisher.


Oakland, California : University of California Press, [2015]

Physical description

xviii, 343 pages : black and white illustrations ; 24 cm


First edition.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 281-325) and index.


Introduction : culture, mental illness, and the extraordinary -- Cultural chemistry in the Clozapine clinic -- This is how God wants it? : the struggle of Sebastián -- Emotion and conceptions of mental illness: the social ecology of families living with schizophrenia -- The impress of extremity among Salvadoran women refugees -- Blood and magic : no hay que creer ni dejar de creer -- Trauma and trouble in the land of enchantment -- Conclusion : fruits of the extraordinary.


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

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  • 9780520287099
  • 0520287096
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  • 0520287118