Mental Health in the War on Terror: Culture, Science, and Statecraft

Psychiatrist Neil Aggarwal investigates how the War on Terror has generated new forms of mental health knowledge and practice

This presentation examines how the War on Terror has generated new forms of mental health knowledge and practice by examining the process of forensic evaluations in the Guantanamo military commissions system. After reviewing theories from medical anthropology and cultural psychiatry on the meaning of detainee symptoms, Neil Aggarwal will show how the Guantanamo forensic system acts as a site where detainee symptoms are actively contested among prosecution and defense teams. The case of one detainee is explored in depth, particularly in light of the US Senate’s ‘Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program’ released in December 2014.

Neil AggarwalNeil Krishan Aggarwal is a Research Psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Columbia University Medical Center. He is interested in cultural psychiatry and psychiatric anthropology, especially among South Asian and Middle Eastern populations.

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