Paradigm Shift? Purity, Progress and the Origins of First-Episode Psychosis

In “Paradigm Shift? Purity, Progress and the Origins of First-Episode Psychosis,” Suze G. Berkhout examines images, concepts and metaphors in the medical literature on early intervention into first-episode psychosis (FEP) to understand how its embeds notions of purity and progress, and how the origins of the category is coeval with the development of new anti-psychotic drugs. Metaphors of purity in the FEP literature, Berkhout argues, bring with them ‘a moral lens through which actions are justified while simultaneously reinforcing the pathologisation of difference and otherness and the valorisation of a prior, idealised “normal” state’ (176). The notion of progress in the literature, on the other hand, ‘speak[s] to a futurity that casts mental disability as an obstacle to the arc of progress’ (178). Rather than seeking to undermine developments in early intervention into FEP, Berkhout shows how an attention to the language of early intervention reveals assumptions that reveal how this paradigm is less radical than it appears, and that despite its successes attention to these embedded assumptions may open avenues for transforming early intervention into FEP into a truly far-reaching paradigm.

Listen to Berkhout’s summary of her article in the soundbite below:

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities Journal website.

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