chapter  8
26 Pages

Things Fall Apart: Society and Depression in the 21st Century

In this chapter and the next I make recommendations for a rebirth of social psychi atry, albeit in a different form from the social psychiatry of the 1960s. I devote chapter 9 to suggestions for a revival of empirical research in social psychiatry, and I devote this chapter to what C. Wright Mills identified as the “sociological imagi nation,” a perspective that can be of great value to psychiatrists as they treat their patients today.2 Mills described the need as follows:

What they need … is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid sum mations of what is going on in the world and of what may be hap pening within themselves. … The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life. … It enables him to take into account how individuals, in the welter of their daily experience, often become falsely conscious of their social positions. Within the wel ter, the framework of modern society is sought, and within that framework the psychologies of a variety of men and women are for mulated. By such means the personal uneasiness of individuals is focused upon explicit troubles [experienced by the individual] and … indifference [experienced by society]. (p. 5)2

Psychiatrists need a sociological imagination, and they need to help their patients to broaden their sociological imaginations.