Svetlana M. Bardina

MSSES, Moscow, Russia


The paper examines Nikolas Rose’s conception of the neuroscientific revolution in psychiatry. It has been repeatedly stated that the advances in neuroscience led to the radical transformation of psychiatry and that they will lead to further changes in mental health. Regardless of whether this transformation is considered as change for the better or for the worse, it is described as a radical move towards a completely new way of understanding and treating mental disorders. Rose’s conceptionis remarkable since it focuses not only on the very transformation of psychiatry, but also on the discourse of radical shift, on hopes, expectations and evaluations of these changes. This paper examines and summarizes key ideas of how the discourse of radical shift — which in fact refers to the future — influences the way psychiatry evolves. The author demonstrates that this discourse is controversial, since it is based on an ambivalent concept of the future. On the one hand, the neuroscientific revolution in psychiatry is said to establish a predictable, calculable and thus governable future in the field of mental health. On the other hand,the expected radical revolution in methods of treating and preventing mental disorders is considered as inconceivable from today’s perspective. Yet, the latter is the condition of the former. This paradox forms an integral part of recent discussions on the neuroscientific revolution in psychiatry.

Keywords: future, neuroscientific revolution, psychiatry, psychopharmacological revolution, Rose