The sociological model of mental illness (Weitz, 2020, pp. 146-148) offers a much needed contrast to the disproportionate dominance of the medical model in research, public policy, and popular discourse (Weitz, 2020, pp. 145-146 & 158-160). Unfortunately, the sociological model receives little attention in comparison (Mulvaney, 2001), although there has been a slight revival in recent years. However, the bulk of research on mental illness within the sociological model is predominantly quantitative, relying heavily on statistics and reducing complex systemic processes to various separated variables (Chandler, 2019; Mullaney, 2016; Spates & Slatton, 2021). Both sociological and psychological research on mental illness tend to be dominated by a highly quantitative focus on ‘social factors’, and generally shy away from examining the role of macro-level social structures and institutions. Consequently, even the sociological model of mental illness tends to fall short of implicating the underlying socio-economic system as a potential contributor to psychological harm and distress. This paper offers critiques of the medical model of mental illness and highlights both the strengths and shortcomings of work in the sociological model. I will also attempt to address these issues by providing a sociological and philosophical analysis of how the capitalist socio-economic system, and systems of oppression in general, shapes social constructions of mental illness and inflicts chronic stress and stigma, leading to much of the psychological distress that many people currently experience.
- Capitalism and Mental Health: An Analysis of Mental Illness, Alienation, and Death in Late Capitalist Society