Collection

On balance: lifestyle, mental health and wellbeing

Editor: Dr Ali Haggett (Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, UK)

Scope: During the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, scientists, clinicians, policy-makers and patients have repeatedly mobilised concepts of ‘balance’ to explain the functions and malfunctions of bodies and minds and to promote wellbeing. This article collection aims to explore the ways in which changing notions of balance have been used to understand the causes of mental illness, to rationalise new approaches to its treatment and prevention, and to validate advice relating to balance in work and family life.

Drawing on a range of approaches and methodologies, from the history of medicine, anthropology and psychology the articles collectively explore the various ways in which the concept of balance emerged in twentieth-century debates about psychological health and wellbeing in Britain and the United States. The collection also examines the ways in which the term has perhaps been utlilsed as a rhetorical construct—a ‘metaphorical device’ employed to articulate a range of broader social and cultural anxieties about well-being and modern living.

Read the Editor’s foreword to this collection.