MIND, anti-psychiatry, and the case of the mental hygiene movement’s ‘discursive transformation’

Jonathan Toms

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During the 1970s the National Association for Mental Health (NAMH) re-labelled itself MIND, becoming a rights-based organisation, critiquing psychiatry and emphasising patients’ citizenship. Its transformation has been coloured by attributions of the influence of anti-psychiatry. This article argues that the relevance of anti-psychiatry has been over-simplified. It examines MIND’s history as part of the psychiatric strategy known as mental hygiene. This movement’s agenda can be understood as paradigmatic of much that anti-psychiatry renounced. However, building on the sociologist Nick Crossley’s description of the interactional nature of Social Movement Organisations in the psychiatric field, this article shows that a ‘discursive transformation’ can be deduced in core elements of mental hygienist thinking. This transformation of discourse clearly prefigured important elements of anti-psychiatry, and also fed into MIND’s rights approach. But it must be appreciated on its own terms. Its distinctiveness under MIND is shown in its application to people with learning disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622–640
Number of pages19
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date17 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Anti-psychiatry
  • MIND
  • Mental hygiene
  • Social movements

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