Madness in International Relations provides an important and innovative account of the role of psychology and psychiatry in global politics, showing how mental health governance has become a means of securing various populations, often with questionable effects.

Through the analysis of three key case studies Howell illustrates how such therapeutic interventions can at times be coercive and sovereign, at other times disciplinary, and at still other times benevolent, though not benign. In each case a ‘diagnostic competition’ is traced, that is, a contestation over how best to diagnose and treat the population in question. The book examines the populations of Guantánamo Bay, post-conflict societies and western militaries, identifying how these diagnostic competitions ultimately rest on shared assumptions about the value of psychology and psychiatry in managing global security, about the value of achieving security through mental health governance, and ultimately about the medicalization of security.

This work will be of great interest to all scholars of International relations, critical theory and security studies.

chapter |22 pages

Madness in International Relations

An introduction

chapter |14 pages

Security, order, control

From anti-politics to ethico-politics

chapter |27 pages

Approaching madness

The psy disciplines in critical perspective

chapter |24 pages

Victims or madmen?

Suicide and the diagnostic competition over detainees at Guantánamo Bay

chapter |25 pages

The diagnostic competition over post-conflict populations

Merging the psychosocial and mental health models

chapter |30 pages

Ordering soldiers

Contesting therapeutic practices in the Canadian military

chapter |11 pages


The global politics of governing mental health