PhD, Sociology, New York University (2010)
Sociology of Health and Medicine , Social Movements , Science and KnowledgeSociology of Mental Health , Sociology of Ignorance
On the Heels of Ignorance: Psychiatry and the Politics of Not Knowing
Psychiatry has always aimed to peer deep into the human mind, daring to cast light on its darkest corners and untangle its thorniest knots, often invoking the latest medical science in doing so. But, as Owen Whooley’s sweeping new book tell us, the history of American psychiatry is really a record of ignorance. On the Heels of Ignorance begins with psychiatry’s formal inception in the 1840s and moves through two centuries of constant struggle simply to define and redefine mental illness, to say nothing of the best way to treat it. Whooley’s book is no antipsychiatric screed, however; instead, he reveals a field that has muddled through periodic reinventions and conflicting agendas of curiosity, compassion, and professional striving. On the Heels of Ignorance draws from intellectual history and the sociology of professions to portray an ongoing human effort to make sense of complex mental phenomena using an imperfect set of tools, with sometimes tragic results.
Available for purchase here.
Knowledge in the Time of Cholera: The Struggle over American Medicine in the Nineteenth Century
These cholera outbreaks raised fundamental questions about medical knowledge and its legitimacy, giving fuel to alternative medical sects that used the confusion of the epidemic to challenge both medical orthodoxy and the authority of the still-new American Medical Association. In Knowledge in the Time of Cholera, Owen Whooley tells us the story of those dark days, centering his narrative on rivalries between medical and homeopathic practitioners and bringing to life the battle to control public understanding of disease, professional power, and democratic governance in nineteenth-century America.
Available for purchase here.
Whooley, Owen. On the Heels of Ignorance: Psychiatry and the Politics of Not Knowing (University of Chicago Press, 2019)
Whooley, Owen. 2017. “Defining Mental Disorders,” in A Handbook for the Study of Mental Health, 3rd edition, edited by Teresa L. Scheid & Eric R. Wright. NY: Cambridge University Press, 131-176.
Whooley, Owen. 2016. “Measuring Mental Disorders: The Failed Commensuration Project of DSM-5,” Social Science & Medicine, 166:33-40.
Smith, Tyson and Owen Whooley. 2015. “Dropping the ‘Disorder' in PTSD,” Contexts Magazine, 14(4):38-43.
Whooley, Owen. 2014. “Nosological Reflections: The Failure of DSM-5, the Emergence of RDoC, and the Decontextualization of Mental Distress,” Society and Mental Health, 4(2):92-110
Sociology of Medical Practice
Sociology of Madness
Contemporary Sociological Theory (graduate)
Knowledge and Power (graduate)
Sociology of Mental Health (graduate)