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Current State: Published

CUSP@CSCS (Culture-Subjectivity-Psyche:Rethinking Mental Health) is an applied research initiative. CUSP is a collective as well as a consortium of institutions, intended to rethink mental health in India and intervene at policy-levels.
  • Convenor: Ashish Rajadhyaksha, CSCS
  • Advisors: Ashish Nandy, Sudhir Kakar, Ian Parker, Shailesh Kapadia, Ashoke Nagpal, Sanjeev Jain, Erica Burman, Tejaswini Niranjana, Sitharamam Kakarala, Jayanti Basu  
  • Collective: Radhika. P., Asha Achuthan, Ranjita Biswas, Anup Dhar
  • Associates: Honey Oberoi, Bhargavi Davar, Diptarup Chowdhury, Manasi Kumar, Ranjini Krishnan, Rakhi Ghoshal, Sabah Siddiqui, Sayori Ghoshal, Bulbul Bakshi, Sarbani DasRoy, Kimberly Lacroix 


CUSP looks and works with multiple perspectives on mind, mental dis-ease (dis-ease and not disease; because pathologization is not our purpose; our focus is instead on un-ease, on suffering) and mental health/well-being. CUSP stresses the need for an integrated approach to mental health. In the process, CUSP wishes to rethink mental health in India.

CUSP wishes to write a psychology - write a logic of the psyche - beyond the familiar triad 'normal-pathology-cure' - a triad that has hitherto dominated the 'modern' thinking of a logic of the psyche. CUSP wishes to write a logic of the psyche marked instead by 'suffering-healing-care'. In the process, it also moves from oculocentrism as the defining method of medicine (and now psychiatry) to attending to narratives of suffering subjectivities in their infinite complexity - attending in the hearing-listening mode.     


  • Why CUSP? 


The imagination of CUSP stems from the realization that one needs to attend to mind, mental dis-ease and mental health/well-being in multiple ways – spanning from the ‘scientific approach’ to the ‘legal’ to the ‘social science-humanities approach’. One needs to work at the cusp of multiple perspectives – biomedical psychiatry (driven by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual [DSM] and by neuro-psycho-pharmacology) and social psychology; institutional cure, i.e. the mental helath clinic and the hospital, and ‘folk’ care; western and non-western, modern and non-modern perspectives to mind, mental dis-ease and mental health, as also work at the cusp of hospital-community-family.

To attend to mental dis-ease, one also needs to think questions at three levels: (a) one needs to think questions related to the knowledge and diagnosis of mental dis-ease; (b) one needs to think the therapeutic, in the context of the clinic, in terms of the prescribing of drugs as also in terms of psychotherapy-counselling and why not, ‘free association and talking cure’ in a psychoanalytic setting. Thirdly, in the context of the clinic, one needs to think the ethics of the mental health clinic and the rights of the mentally dis-eased.

Mental health is thus not a question that is exclusive to medicine. One needs an integrated, i.e. an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary approach, to attend to mental dis-ease, promote mental health and usher in mental well-being. Moreover, this intervention has to occur both at the individual level and the social. To attend to mental dis-ease we therefore need to intervene at a number of levels – spanning from pure thought/knowledge/research to clinical practice, from questions of health to questions of law, from scientific curriculum to social understandings of mind-unreason-madness-cure, from elite-urban understandings to popular perceptions, from journal articles to newspaper columns on mental health. Thus, it is also related to the structure of the curriculum that is currently taught in medicine, psychiatry, psychology and counselling courses.

For CUSP, mind (M1), mental dis-ease (M2) and mental health/well-being (M3) constitute a mutually constitutive triad of registers.

In the first register – mindM1 – we have questions like ‘what is mind’, ‘what is it to be minded’, ‘what is the structure and logic of the mind’ and related questions like ‘who am I’ (in terms of my psychic economy) and given the structure of one’s mind, ‘how does one live’? M1 as a register has a long list of players and contending positions. To understand M1, one has to think through philosophy and science, think through philosophy of mind and the science(s) of the mind; one has to think through psychoanalysis, behaviourism, phenomenology, cognitive science and neurobiology focused respectively on repression-unconscious, objective observables, subjectivities, computation and neurotransmitters; one also has to think through non-western and non-modern cultures of psychology.

To think through mental dis-easeM2 – one has to think through suffering, knowledge and diagnosis of mental dis-ease in a clinical setting; one has to think through notions of care and cure.

To think through mental health/well-beingM3 – one has to think it at two levels – the individual and the social – think it at the level of the subject as also at the level of culture. One also has to think it at the cusp of the institution (here the mental health hospital) and the clinic of the individual practitioner as at the cusp of community-family. One needs to keep in mind the cusp of the economic (the flow of paid services), the political (the flow of power – the power of the Reasoned over the one who is purportedly unreasonable) and the cultural (the flow of meanings with respect to sanity-insanity, madness).



History of CUSP:


The initial imagination of CUSP as an applied research program was premised on the organization of a series of seminars on basic psychoanalytic concepts with the ‘Psychoanalytic Therapy and Research Centre’ (PTRC), Bombay. The first seminar was held on the 19th and the 20th of Jan 2008 in Calcutta on Transference and Methodology (with the Centre for Counselling Services and Studies in Self-Development, Jadavpur University and PTRC) and the second was held in Bombay on Psychoanalysis and Cinema on the 15th, 16th and 17th of August 2008. The PTRC is an institute that houses Kleinian Psychoanalysts and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists. CUSP is now planning to organize a series of seminars in different cities in India. The proposed cities and the collaborating institutions are:

a. Bangalore (with NIMHANS [Bangalore], Christ University [Bangalore], Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies [CPS], Delhi University and PTRC, Bombay)
b. Kolkata (with the Centre for Counselling Services and Studies in Self-Development [CCSSS], Jadavpur University, Department of Philosophy that also houses a School of Cognitive Science, CPS [New Delhi], PTRC [Bombay] and Iswar Sankalpa, Kolkata)
c. Delhi (with the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Delhi) and
d. Ahmedabad (with Antarnad Foundation, focused on Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and PTRC)
e. School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

CUSP has also had a close relation with the PG Department of Psychology, Christ University. The national seminar on Psychology and Cinema http://groups.google.com/group/greenyouth/msg/6e500e6a27d88bb6 that the department organised was the occasion of the setting up of the relation CUSP now has with the department. CUSP would like to see CSCS as its research axis and the PG Department of Psychology, Christ University as its pedagogic axis; CUSP also wishes to be the bridge between CSCS and Christ – that is, between research and teaching. 

The other theme that CUSP has developed with the Law, Society and Culture Programme at CSCS is the ‘Law, Subjectivity and Psychoanalysis’ group (formed with members of the Alternative Law Forum [ALF], a Bangalore based organisation). We see this group as evolving out of our common interests – interests that CUSP shares with ‘Law, Society and Culture’.


Activities of CUSP: 


  • Web-archive of material pertaining to a critical take on questions of mind, mental dis-ease and mental health/well-being.  


1. Quality Assurance in Mental Health

         (a) Vol 1

         (b) Vol 2  

2. Mental Health Sciences and Law

         (a) Insanity, Gender and Law   

3. Critical Psychology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_psychology


  • International Google Group on Critical Psychology
  • CUSP would like to think the connection of the question of ‘mind-mental dis-ease-mental health’ with the Science Question. While the question of subjectivity would be a crucial consideration in CUSP, it would also like to be open to questions of objectivity. CUSP, in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Studies (CCS), Indian Institute of Science and NIMHANS would like to engage with the consciousness debate and with developments in cognitive science and neurobiology. CUSP would like to explore
    (i) the feasibility of possible connections the project could make with other Science Institutions (in terms of Institutional Collaboration)
    (ii) how the project could help us re-think questions of science (in term of science education and the learning of science) and ‘questions of the clinic’/‘questions of practice’
    (iii) how the project could help us think the question of the rights of the mentally dis-eased as also think an ethics of the mental health clinic (keeping in mind the fact that the mental health scene would be inclusive of western style clinics, non-western clinics as also the community). 
  • CUSP Collaboration with faculty members of the Discourse Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University – Erica Burman, Ian Parker and Dan Goodley http://www.discourseunit.com/. Themes of interest:

        (i) narratives of violence in South Asia
        (ii) psychobiography of trauma in South Asia
        (iii) psychosocial initiatives with vulnerable child populations – development of a critical psychological/psychoanalytic framework (where we contrast human/social development to child development approaches)
        (iv) development of a culturally sensitive course on psychoanalytic theory and practice for developing contexts.

        The present project we are trying to give shape to collaboratively is titled: Subjectivity and Social Action: Conceptual and Methodological frameworks for addressing Violence

  • History of Psychoanalysis in India (The Secret Politics of Ab-Original Psychoanalysis: Fort-Da between the Windscreen and the Rearview Mirror): We wish to write a history of psychoanalysis (history of the evolution and growth of psychoanalytic concepts in India to be more precise) bringing together trends that developed in Calcutta (the classical Freudian), in Bombay (the Kleinian), in Bangalore (the Jungian and the phenomenological-existential-gestalt in NIMHANS), in Delhi (Eriksonian). In this work, we would like to see how these approaches have thought the question of ‘culture’. What was the 'culture of psychoanalysis' that had evolved in India? What was the 'psychoanalysis of culture' that emerged in the process? How did such thinking inform the question of (colonial) subjectivity? 



  • PUBLIC LECTURE by DR. ERICA BURMAN (Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, U.K.) on Critical Psychology: Four Theses and Seven Misconceptions on November 18, 2008 at Christ University [Organised by Department of PG Psychology, Christ University, Bangalore in collaboration with ].
  • Seminar on Observational Studies and Child Psychotherapy (Aug 28-29, 2009). 

    •  Workshop on Client's Perspective in Mental Health (Aug 30, 2009)

     To see the Concept Note of the workshop click here

    • Culture, Subjectivity and Psychoanalysis: The Politics of (Secret) Selves in Colonial India http://www.cscsarchive.org/courses_folder/courses.2007-02-22.3187588309/papers.2008-07-11.3624062407/modules.2008-07-11.6685406013
    • Psychology after Lacan (this course is part of CUSP's effort to take psychoanalysis to the University; this year we are taking Jacques Lacan to the University; next year we plan to take Melanie Klein to the University with help from PTRC, Bombay; the present course focussing on Lacan is currently being taught in the PG Department of Psychology, Christ University by the CUSP Collective; outstation candidates can register for the ONLINE version of the course. The course structure is available at http://lacanians.blogspot.com/)
    • Psychology after Foucault
    • Conversations on Consciousness: What Makes Us Think?    


    CUSP Publications: 
    • CUSP - Volume 1, No 1 - W(h)ither Psychology (an interview with Ashish Nandy) - forthcoming.  


    CUSP Projects: 

    1. The Experience of Gendered Violence: Developing Psychobiographies

    2. Review of Mental Health Services in India: Focus on the Client's Perspective

    CUSP Talks:

    'Role of Faith Healing in Mental Health Care'



    CUSP Internship Papers

    To see the internship papers click here

    Institutional Collaborations: 


    1. NIMHANS, Bangalore
    2. PG Department of Psychology, Christ University, Bangalore http://www.christuniversity.in/deptpreview.php?did=58
    3. Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies [CPS], Delhi University http://universitypsychoanalyticcenter.org/
    4. PTRC, Bombay http://www.psychoanalysis-mumbai.org/history-ptrc.html
    5. Centre for Counselling Services and Studies in Self-Development [CCSSS], Jadavpur University, Department of Philosophy that also houses a School of Cognitive Science http://www.jadavpur.edu/students/counselling.htm, http://www.ccsssju-lifeskills.org 
    6. Iswar Sankalpa, Kolkata
    7. Antarnad Foundation, Ahmedabad http://www.antarnadfoundation.org/
    8. School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata http://www.jadavpur.edu/academics/sws/school.asp and the Gender Studies Initiative of the Higher Education (HE) Cell
    9. Samikshani, Kolkata
    10. HE Cell, CSCS 
    11. Law, Society and Culture, CSCS.


    Contact Us: 


    Ranjini Krishnan

    PhD Fellow, CSCS and Research Associate, Mental Health, Integrated Science Education

    Address: No 827, 29th Main Road, Poornaprajna HBCS Layout,
    Uttarahalli, Bangalore - 560061, India
    Ph: 91-80-26423266/67/68 (landline); 91-80-26423002 (fax)
    Website: www.cscsarchive.org


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