Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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INVITED ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 27-38

How do psychiatrists in India construct their professional identity? A critical literature review


1 Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom
2 Department of Psychiatry, Centre of Excellence in Mental Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Sushrut Jadhav
Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_16_17

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Psychiatric practice in India is marked by an increasing gulf between largely urban-based mental health professionals and a majority rural population. Based on the premise that any engagement is a mutually constructed humane process, an understanding of the culture of psychiatry including social process of local knowledge acquisition by trainee psychiatrists is critical. This paper reviews existing literature on training of psychiatrists in India, the cultural construction of their professional identities and autobiographical reflections. The results reveal a scarcity of research on how identities, knowledge, and values are constructed, contested, resisted, sustained, and operationalized through practice. This paper hypothesizes that psychiatric training and practice in India continues to operate chiefly in an instrumental fashion and bears a circular relationship between cultural, hierarchical training structures and patient–carer concerns. The absence of interpretative social science training generates a professional identity that predominantly focuses on the patient and his/her social world as the site of pathology. Infrequent and often superfluous critical cultural reflexivity gained through routine clinical practice further alienates professionals from patients, caregivers, and their own social landscapes. This results in a peculiar brand of theory and practice that is skewed toward a narrow understanding of what constitutes suffering. The authors argue that such omissions could be addressed through nuanced ethnographies on the professional development of psychiatrists during postgraduate training, including the political economies of their social institutions and local cultural landscapes. Further research will also help enhance culturally sensitive epistemology and shape locally responsive mental health training programs. This is critical for majority rural Indians who place their trust in State biomedical care.



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