Overcoming Psychic Debilitation: Models of Wellbeing in the Heritage Traditions

University of Warwick April 27th–28th 2019


Young people across the world are currently experiencing unprecedented rates of mental illness and incapacitation attributable in no small way to neoliberal regimes of bio-politics which penetrate into the deepest layers of the self/mind. Once trapped within a system that demands constant self-optimization according to the standards of the majoritarian order, peoples’ lives have become increasingly debilitated through depression and related psychic illnesses, and dependent on a model of mental health that primarily serves the agendas of drug companies and conventional medicine. This is the second in a series of scholarly workshops which aim to explore alternative models of treatment and well being arising from what we call ‘heritage knowledge systems’. Heritage systems of knowledge and healing refer to traditions of long durée, misleadingly classified as religious or spiritual traditions, which inherit and transmit images of thought able to challenge the world views that give rise to the “bio-politics of debilitation” which maims young and old alike. Accordingly the workshop has two main objectives. On the one hand participants will examine limitations of current models of mental health and the kind of interventions being offered. On the other hand scholars and practitioners are invited to present and explore ‘heritage’ knowledge systems drawn from gurmat, Buddhist, Judaic, Hindu and other traditions capable of providing interventions designed for cultivating ultimate wellness and re-capacitating bodies and minds subject to debilitation. Workshop participants will explore the psychological and spiritual health needs arising within ‘heritage’ communities. By looking at experiential needs and development of spiritual techniques, the workshop will try to address the “mental” needs of those most vulnerable to contemporary neoliberal regimes. Location: University of Warwick, UK