Heidi Rimke

Dr. Heidi Rimke specializes in the areas of health, illness, theory, criminology, law, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, cultural studies, politics, and history. She has taught at the Universities of Ottawa, Manitoba, Winnipeg, and Carleton University. She is broadly interested in questions of power, knowledge, injustice, inequality, suffering, and healing with a focus on mental health and therapeutic culture both historically and contemporarily. In particular, she has developed the theory of psychocentrism to critique the “broken brain hypothesis” seen in the popular individualistic human deficit model that generally locates the pathology within the person and thus blames the individual rather than society. Instead, she advocates the use of a social deficit model that addresses mental distress as a social problem with social causes, social consequences, and thus requiring social understanding and social remedies. Her research accounts for the multiple harmful effects of social, economic, cultural, political, and historical inequalities and factors on the quality of human life – facts the traditional biomedical approaches tend to undervalue, if not ignore. Her theory has been applied to study oppression and criminalization, self-help culture, the commodification of suffering, suicide, youth injustice, incarceration, disordered eating, mental health discrimination and stigma, the history of the insanity defense, the politics of ‘normal’, knowledge deficits within health-care systems, police brutality, and the legacy of violence against the marginalized via dominant social institutions, discourses, and myths. Her scholarship has been published in dozens of textbooks, reference sets, edited collections, and academic journals such as Power and Everyday Practices, Cultural Studies, History of the Human Sciences, Racism and Borders, Canadian Criminology: Critical Perspectives, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Studies in Social Justice, Manufacturing Phobias, Violence and the Body, and Containing Madness: Gender and ‘Psy’ in Institutional Contexts. She is currently researching the social risks of gendered violence in Canadian public institutions and workplaces, the role of compassion in the healing process, and the benefits of alternative therapeutic approaches. Her research on mental health justice, human rights, social stigma, and the negative community reaction to the Vince Li case was recently released in a short documentary. She is presenting her work on social institutions, violence, and medical complicity at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health at the Sapienza University of Rome in July 2019.

Research Areas: Children and Youth, Criminology and Law, Disability Studies, Equality and Inequality, Feminist Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Health and Care, Media Studies, Politics and Social Movements, Social Theory, Sociology of Knowledge, Violence

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Dr. Rimke specializes in the areas of health and illness with a focus on mental health, iatrogenesis, self-help culture, criminology, medicine, psychiatry, and alternative healing and treatment.

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The Cannibal on Bus 1170: Rethinking Moral Panics

“The Cannibal on Bus 1170: Rethinking Moral Panics” features Sociologist Dr. Heidi Rimke of the University of Winnipeg who explains the Tim McLean cannibal murder and the negative social reaction that ...

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