Cover page

Series page

China Today series

  1. Greg Austin, Cyber Policy in China
  2. Jeroen de Kloet and Anthony Y. H. Fung, Youth Cultures in China
  3. Steven M. Goldstein, China and Taiwan
  4. David S. G. Goodman, Class in Contemporary China
  5. Stuart Harris, China's Foreign Policy
  6. William R. Jankowiak and Robert L. Moore, Family Life in China
  7. Elaine Jeffreys with Haiqing Yu, Sex in China
  8. Michael Keane, Creative Industries in China
  9. Joe C. B. Leung and Yuebin Xu, China's Social Welfare
  10. Hongmei Li, Advertising and Consumer Culture in China
  11. Orna Naftali, Children in China
  12. Eva Pils, Human Rights in China
  13. Pitman B. Potter, China's Legal System
  14. Pun Ngai, Migrant Labor in China
  15. Xuefei Ren, Urban China
  16. Nancy E. Riley, Population in China
  17. Judith Shapiro, China's Environmental Challenges 2nd edition
  18. Alvin Y. So and Yin-wah Chu, The Global Rise of China
  19. Teresa Wright, Party and State in Post-Mao China
  20. Jie Yang, Mental Health in China
  21. You Ji, China's Military Transformation
  22. LiAnne Yu, Consumption in China
  23. Xiaowei Zang, Ethnicity in China
Title page

Copyright page




1894–5First Sino-Japanese War
1898First mental health hospital established in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, by American Medical Missionary John Kerr
1911Fall of the Qing dynasty
1912Republic of China established under Sun Yat-sen
1917Institute of Psychology established in Beijing
1927Split between Nationalists (KMT) and Communists (CCP); civil war begins
1934–5CCP under Mao Zedong evades KMT in Long March
December 1937Nanjing Massacre
1937–45Second Sino-Japanese War
1945–9Civil war between KMT and CCP resumes
October 1949KMT retreats to Taiwan; Mao founds People's Republic of China (PRC)
1950–3Korean War
1953–7First Five-Year Plan; PRC adopts Soviet-style economic planning
1954First constitution of the PRC and first meeting of the National People's Congress
1956–7Hundred Flowers Movement, a brief period of open political debate
1957Anti-Rightist Movement
1958The first National Conference for Mental Illness Prevention in Nanjing
1958–60The Great Leap Forward, an effort to transform China through rapid industrialization and collectivization
March 1959Tibetan Uprising in Lhasa; Dalai Lama flees to India
1959–61Three Hard Years, widespread famine with tens of millions of deaths
1960Sino-Soviet split
1962Sino-Indian War
October 1964First PRC atomic bomb detonation
1966–76Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution; Mao reasserts power
1970The abolition of the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
February 1972President Richard Nixon visits China; “Shanghai Communiqué” pledges to normalize US–China relations
September 1976Death of Mao Zedong
October 1976Ultra-Leftist Gang of Four arrested and sentenced
December 1978Deng Xiaoping assumes power; launches Four Modernizations and economic reforms
1978One-child family planning policy introduced
1979US and China establish formal diplomatic ties; Deng Xiaoping visits Washington
PRC invades Vietnam
Mental Health Clinics opened at Beijing and Shanghai
1982Census reports PRC population at more than one billion
December 1984Margaret Thatcher co-signs Sino-British Joint Declaration agreeing to return Hong Kong to China in 1997
1985Chinese Association for Mental Health established in Beijing
1989Tiananmen Square protests culminate in June 4 military crack-down
1992Deng Xiaoping's Southern Inspection Tour re-energizes economic reforms
1993The inclusion of cultivating “psychological quality” in educational objectives by the Central Party policy
1993–2002Jiang Zemin is president of PRC, continues economic growth agenda
1997First Sino-German Mental Health Training Program started at Shanghai Mental Health Center
November 2001WTO accepts China as member
2001National Mental Health License introduced by Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security
2002–3SARS outbreak concentrated in PRC and Hong Kong
2002–12Hu Jintao, General-Secretary of CCP (and President of PRC from 2003)
2006PRC supplants US as largest CO2 emitter
August 2008Summer Olympic Games in Beijing
2008Psychological counselors aided victims from the Sichuan earthquake
2010Shanghai World Exposition
2012Xi Jinping appointed General-Secretary of the CCP (and President of PRC from 2013)
First Mental Health Law of PRC
2015National Mental Health Working Plan released by National Health and Family Planning Commission of PRC


I would like to thank all my informants and friends in both Beijing and Shandong Province for their generosity with their time, expertise, connections, and, most of all, for their trust. They opened so many doors for me to venture into diverse and multiple realms of mental health practices in China that compelled me to constantly rethink my research questions and expand my ethnographic inquiry. While I cannot thank them one by one publicly, their voices and insights permeate pages of the book. I hope that they like the way I interpreted their perspectives.

I presented materials drawn from this project at various conferences and institutions. I thank the organizers of and participants at these events: the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association (2009–16); and the 2016 biannual meetings of the International Gender and Language Association, University of Victoria, University of Westminster, City University of Hong Kong, Free University Berlin, Columbia University, and Washington University at St. Louis. Special thanks go to Nick Bartlett, Anett Dippner, Derek Hird, Brian King, Daromir Rudnyckj, Julia Vorhoelter, and Gerda Wielander. I truly appreciate their valuable contributions to this book and treasure their friendship and support.

The book has benefited greatly from conversations with or written comments from Manduhai Buyandelger, Cherum Chu, Parin Dossa, Elsa Fan, Fang Yuanyuan, Zhipeng Gao, Lisa Hoffman, Hu Linying, Hu Xinying, Anru Lee, Ann-Marie Leshkowich, Mieke Matthyssen, Carl Ratner, Pam Stern, Louise Sundararajan, Priscilla Song, Allen Tran, Wang Linan, Zhang Hong, Li Zhang, and Zhang Liao. I appreciate helpful research assistance from Marion Lougheed, Su Jing, and George Qingzhi Zhao. Janet Keller and Erin Martineau offered meticulous editorial guidance, intellectual inspiration, and helpful comments on the manuscript. I especially thank Marguerite Pigeon for her constant encouragement, support, and very insightful and valuable contributions to this project since 2014 when I started to draft the book.

I also benefited greatly from conversations and support from my colleagues at Simon Fraser University. Janice Matsumura has been a great mentor, and her constant encouragement and intellectual guidance have been extremely valuable over the years since I came to SFU. Barb Mitchell offered both extremely helpful insights on how to write a compelling book and important references. Robert Menzies at a crucial moment of this project offered encouragement and very helpful reference guidance. I thank him for being such a superb colleague, supportive mentor, and insightful scholar.

The data this book draws on were collected during field research for a big project on therapeutic governance in China funded by a multi-year standard research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The final stage of writing was also supported by a Rapid Response Publication Grant from Simon Fraser University.

Writing this book would have been unimaginable without the trust of former editor at Polity Press Emma Longstaff, who first contacted me regarding this project in late 2014. I appreciate the way she contacted authors, personal, warm, and patient. Her insights into and guidance of the book proposal set the blueprint for the book. Jonathan Skerrett is a superb editor. I cannot thank him enough for all his help and labor. His clear and efficient guidance, thoughtful comments, and professionalism made it possible to bring this book to completion. Justin Dyer's meticulous and virtuosic editing is truly a gift. I thank Justin and Neil de Cort for the great attention and care they gave to the manuscript. I also want to thank Nick Manning and the other anonymous reviewer for insightful comments and helpful suggestions, which were instrumental to my final revisions.

I dedicate this book to my mother, who passed away before its publication. In order not to distract me from my writing, she asked family members not to reveal her illness to me so that I dedicated my time to finish the book proposal in Vancouver in early 2015 before heading back to China. She made sure that I got in touch with a key research informant whom she had met through her doctor a few days before she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. My memory of her love, warmth, wisdom, and spiritual strength will nurture me and sustain me for the rest of my life.