Toward a Social Understanding of Mental Health

  • Peter Smagorinsky
Part of the Palgrave Studies In Play, Performance, Learning, and Development book series (PPLD)


My goal in this chapter is to contest the deficit views of people who are discursively constructed as being mentally ill or disordered. In the following sections I review related work on how difference becomes pathologized, and draw on Vygotsky’s (1993) work in the field of defectology—an unfortunately named effort to integrate blind, deaf, and people otherwise lacking common physical traits into society’s streams of activity1—to provide a social understanding of mental health. This effort is undertaken in order to outline a social view of anomalous mental health makeups that is less oriented to individual illness (see Chap.  1) and more centered on adaptations made by the broader society to accommodate and support a wider range of mental health profiles (see Chap.  3).


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Smagorinsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Language and Literacy EducationThe University of GeorgiaGeorgiaUSA

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