The results of “Debating the First Principles of Transcultural Psychiatry” are now available. They may be found in this post, or on the permanent Results page. Please give us feedback on the ideas presented in the various documents that are now available. For a public reply, click through to this individual posting from the Home page, and then use the blog’s Reply feature. Or use the Contact Us page if you want to reply privately to the Principal Investigator.

Transcultural psychiatry deals with cultural factors in the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. It is a field in which medical science and the humanities have collaborated since the post-war period, and it is growing in importance because of the encounter, diffusion, and mingling of cultures through globalizing forces such as migration and the mass media.

“Debating the First Principles of Transcultural Psychiatry” brought together a number of collaborators from different disciplines and backgrounds, and asked them to generate and reflect upon what they saw as fundamental questions for the field of transcultural psychiatry. The project had a total of eleven collaborators, both clinical and academic. The collaborators were invited to an initial Launch Workshop (24 March 2012) and a concluding Stocktaking Workshop (18 August 2012), both held at Glasgow University. Between these two events, the main work of the project took place in multiple threads of discussion on a private online forum hosted within the project’s website. In all, around 22000 words of forum content were generated by the collective activity of the collaborators.

The debates opened clear lines of interrogation, thematically identified by the Principal Investigator as pertaining to: a) the post-colonial, globalizing problematic of the field, and consequent limitations; b) the cultural specificity, or otherwise, of mental illness; c) the overlap of cultural mental health with identity politics, including new “illness identities”; d) the border disputes, and traffic, between psychiatric and religious ideas and practices; e) the unity of transcultural psychiatry, and its wider social and political commentary; and f) the clinical aptitudes motivated by cultural accounts of mental health.

The project has generated the following discrete outcomes:

Project Summary

A summary of the project’s debates and discussions is available. This lengthy document (8500 words), compiled and authored by the Principal Investigator, also contains an anticipation of possible future foci for research, a technical account of the project’s blog and forum, and a reflection upon online forums as a tool for academic collaboration.

Project Summary: DebatingTCP-summary

Position Papers

Many of the collaborators generously authored position papers containing a written account of their response to the project’s debates and discussions. The following, typically briefer, documents are available:

Simon Dein, “A Position Statement on Religious Delusions and Hallucinations”:
Chris Harding, “Religion and Mental Health: Democratizing Responsibility”:
Cheryl McGeachan, “Moving Across and Beyond the Landscapes of Transcultural Psychiatry”:
Gavin Miller, “Identity and Critique: Two Hidden Logics in Transcultural Psychiatry”:
Matt Smith, “The Social Determinants of Mental Health and Transcultural Psychiatry”:
Tim Thornton, “Transcultural Psychiatry: a Position Paper”:
Ross White, “Global Mental Health – Friend or Foe?”:

Angela Woods, “Debating the First Principles of Transcultural Psychiatry”:


Four collaborators also recorded podcasts based on their position papers. The mp3 files of these podcasts are available from the following links:

Chris Harding’s podcast: DebatingTCP-Harding
Cheryl McGeachan’s podcast: DebatingTCP-McGeachan
Gavin Miller’s podcast: DebatingTCP-Miller
Matt Smith’s podcast: DebatingTCP-Smith


The project welcomes feedback. Feel free to use the blog’s Reply feature to respond in public (remember to enter this individual posting if you’re on the Home page), or use the Contact Us page to make a private response via a webform.

Project Update

Debating the First Principles of Transcultural Psychiatry will conclude on 31 August 2012.

Most of the project’s work currently takes place in the private password-protected forums on this site, where the project’s eleven collaborators, and some invited guests, are debating a number of issues in the fundamentals of transcultural psychiatry, as well as critically responding to literature from the field.

The online debate will be supplemented by a project Stocktaking Workshop (invitation only), which will take place on Saturday 18 August 2012 in Glasgow University. This will be an opportunity for collaborators to air their overall thoughts on the project’s debates, and to discuss ways in which to best disseminate and develop the project’s legacy.

After the Stocktaking Workshop, the project collaborators will prepare 500-1000 words position papers that will be hosted on the blog. Some contributors will also make podcasts of their reflections on the project. The project blog will also feature selected passages and highlights from the private forums.

For an inquiries about the project, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr Gavin Miller,



Forum Contributor featured in Psychiatry Weekly

Psychiatry Weekly have recently featured forum contributor Glòria Durà- Vilà’s recently published research on idioms of distress in Spanish-speaking cultures. The online article can be found at:

The article itself will appear in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. It can be accessed, by subscribers, through the “online first” service, at:

Gloria’s article is also being discussed within the collaborator forums on this site.

New Glasgow MSc in Global Mental Health Care

Glasgow University is launching a new MSc programme in Global Mental Health Care, convened by forum collaborator Dr Ross White. This is the only programme of its kind in Scotland (and there are only two in the entire UK).

Further details at:

A launch event is being held to celebrate this new development.

Global Mental Health Launch Event Flyer