- Aug 1, 2023
- 6.13 x 9.25 in.
- 5 b/w illus.
Mindfulness seems to be everywhere—in popular culture, in therapeutic practice, even in policy discussions. How did mindfulness, an awareness training practice with roots in Buddhism, come to be viewed as a solution to problems that range from depression and anxiety to criminal recidivism? If mindfulness is the answer, asks Joanna Cook, what is the question? In Making a Mindful Nation, Cook uses the lens of mindfulness to show how cultivating a relationship with the mind is now central to the ways people envision mental health. Drawing on long-term fieldwork with patients, therapists, members of Parliament and political advocates in Britain, Cook explores how the logics of preventive mental healthcare are incorporated into people’s relationships with themselves, therapeutic interventions, structures of governance and political campaigns.
Cook observed mindfulness courses for people suffering from recurrent depression and anxiety, postgraduate courses for mindfulness-based therapists, parliamentarians’ mindfulness practice and political advocacy for mindfulness in public policy. She develops her theoretical argument through intimate and in-depth stories about people’s lives and their efforts to navigate the world—whether these involve struggles with mental health or contributions to evolving political agendas. In doing so, Cook offers important insights into the social processes by which mental health is lived, the normative values that inform it and the practices of self-cultivation by which it is addressed.