Seminar: Exploring Barriers to Care in Military Psychiatry

Wednesday 4th May from 13:00-14:30 in Room K6.63, King’s Building, Strand Campus, King’s College London.

Speaker: Alexander Edmonds is professor of social and medical anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. His research examines therapeutic work on body and mind in consumer societies and he has conducted fieldwork in Brazil, the US, and the UK.  Currently, he is leading an anthropological, multi-country study of combat veterans’ mental health and health care, funded by a European Research Council starting grant.  His work has also investigated racial identification, gender norms and plastic surgery in Brazil.  He is the author of Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil (Duke University Press), awarded the Diana Forsythe and the Eileen Basker book prizes.  He has a PhD in anthropology from Princeton University.

Abstract: Joseph Heller’s eponymous novel Catch-22 described a contradictory situation where it is impossible to get exempted from combat duty on the grounds of insanity because the very wish to seek such exemption constituted proof of a sane mind.  Not surprisingly, contemporary American military psychiatry differs from Heller’s fictional account.  For one, efforts have been made to lessen the stigma of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Nevertheless, some soldiers today perceive versions of Catch-22: dark ironies and double binds in their experiences of programs to screen and treat psychosocial problems. Drawing on research with soldiers and clinicians, this paper uses the notion of Catch-22 to explore current controversies surrounding barriers to mental health care for military personnel.

For more information about our SSHM Seminar Series, please visit:

For a selection of audio-recorded talks, please visit:



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