Psychopathological fringes. Historical and social science perspectives on category work in psychiatry


color spectrumDate: 13./14.2.2015
Venue: Berlin, Institute for the History of Medicine, Dahlem
Organization: Nicolas Henckes, Volker Hess, Emmanuel Delille, Marie Reinholdt, Stefan Reinsch, Lara Rzesnitzek,

Over the last few years, the revision process of both the DSM and the chapter V on mental disorders of the ICD has stimulated within psychiatry a series of attempts at challenging established diagnostic categories. These challenges reflect both dissatisfaction with categories as they are defined in existing diagnostic classifications, and a will to adjust them to the demands of clinical and research activities. They are expressed in ways that sometimes strongly resembles the discourse of critical social science. For instance, the conveners of the conference “Deconstructing psychosis” – organized by the American Psychiatric Association along with the WHO and the US National Institutes of Health in 2005 – developed a stringent critique of the proliferation of diagnostic categories in the field of psychosis:…

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Notes from Galveston 2014: Jac Saorsa, Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas

Back in Galveston! Invited again by the wonderful folk at the University of Texas Centre for Medical Humanities to spend another month working here on the Drawing Women’s Cancer project ( I am delighted to be back on the island and full of plans for how to use the month.

It feels good to be able to take a step back after the excitement of the last exhibition in Cardiff. It ended only as I left and it was very successful I feel in terms of the impact it seemed to make on those who visited it or saw the blog posts. The evening of the talk to accompany the show was very moving as many of the women patients I have been talking with were able to attend,Details and what they had to say was more profound than anything I had prepared. They are the heart of the project.

Subjectivity now is the key….last time I was here I did a mountain of background research and this has given me the resources, along with the equally high mountain of personal notes I have made throughout the project to write and focus on this area. Having attended theatre over the past few weeks,  I am exploring subjective narratives based on these experiences, so, more to come!


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Drawing Women’s Cancer in Cardiff

DWC Library Ex poster Eng.

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Reviewer Needed: ‘Reimagining Global Health: An introduction’ (2013) by Paul Farmer et al

With the view to posting a special edition of the medical humanities in global health, expressions of interest are welcome to review ‘Reimagining global health’. The book has been pieced together by some of the most high profile and courageous academics working in this contested field (Farmer, Kim, Kleinman and Basilico).

‘Bringing toreimagining global healthgether the experience, perspective, and expertise of Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, and Arthur Kleinman, and drawing on a course developed by their student Matthew Basilico, Reimagining Global Health provides an original, compelling introduction to the field of global health.

The case studies presented throughout Reimagining Global Health bring together ethnographic, theoretical, and historical perspectives into a wholly new and exciting investigation of global health. The interdisciplinary approach outlined in this text should prove useful not only in schools of public health, nursing, and medicine, but also in undergraduate and graduate classes in anthropology, sociology, political economy, and history.’

We are particularly keen to hear from students, academics and professionals working in the area of ‘global health’, as well as creative thinkers and writers from the wider online community.

If you would like to write a review on ‘Reimagining global health'(approximately 1,000-1,500 words in length), then please email our reviews editor with a short explanation of why you are well placed to review the book.

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We’re Moving!

The Centre for Medical Humanities blog launched in September 2010 and has grown into a vibrant resource for medical humanities researchers, students, clinicians, arts-in-health practitioners, artists and general readers from around the world. Our 1,293 posts have been viewed 231,400 times and reach the inboxes and twitter feeds of over 3000 people.

Blog editors Angela Woods, Will Viney and Felicity Callard are delighted to announce the imminent launch of our new Centre for Medical Humanities blog at Existing content has all been transferred, but further news, updates and insights about medical humanities research will be found here

Subscribers to this blog will have their subscriptions automatically transferred in the coming days, but please do update your bookmarks to the new site.

Thank you for your interest in and support of the CMH blog, and we hope you will continue to visit us in our new incarnation!

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Musings From The Day Room – Mike White Reflects On Chemotherapy, Lanterns, Austerity & Mortality

Mike White‘s diary entry reads: 9th.January. I am up the Northern Centre for Cancer Care this morning for my chemo breakfast, the Special K in my treatment plan.  The day room is furnished like the lobby of a budget hotel with vinyl armchairs in alternate pink and purple. Here 20 or so of us sit with our lines in, reading the papers or talking in hushed tones with our partners/companions. De Quincey in his Confessions (1821) describes his wife as his ‘amanuensis’ through the pains of opium, which I used to think was the peak of Romantic chauvinism benefitting from a classical education.  Now I can appreciate the intimate comfort of such relationship and I welcome Catherine’s role play as the private secretary on my own cancer campaign trail. Cliché suggests the trail is a rollercoaster ride but I would settle for a whirling teacup and a tad less nausea.

When the chemo drip feed is complete the unit emits a disconcerting beep like an HGV alarm. I half expect it to announce “Attention! This vehicle is reversing”, which I suppose it is metaphorically, restoring my body to a pre-metastasis state with a knackered carcinoma. How quickly one picks up the snippets of medical lingo.

It is iPads-a-go-go in here as several of us are absorbed in our Christmas presents. I just got an e-mail from my dear friend Margret Meagher of Arts and Health Australia who tells me her beloved Labrador died on Boxing Day in the midst of a family reunion. She frets that religious dogma has restrictions on pets passing over, but I respond that any worthwhile after-life should include all we have loved wisely and well, and so I cannot believe there is a sign on the pearly gates warning “no dogs allowed and keep off the grass”. I mean, God must be a dog-lover – they share the same Scrabble letters. Do not mistake all this for idle musing – this is a hyper-real me, on drugs and multi-tasking.

Just like a reversible hat, what a difference a day makes.  Yesterday at this time I was passing over flooded fenlands en route for – a-ha! – Norwich, musing (again) on that new entry in our political as well as meteorological vocabulary, ‘the polar vortex’, as the Treasury’s brash announcement sinks in that £25 billion more is to be stripped from our quality of life index. And there I was preparing a pep-talk on evaluating the sustainability of Norfolk’s new arts in health initiative.

Current events are teaching me it is best to sustain some dual thinking for keeping attention both near-to-home and far ahead and not let the bastards narrow one’s horizon. Next week I am helping host CMH’s long-planned lanterns colloquium, the first of its kind (?) and our contribution to Durham’s Institute of Advanced Studies 2014 inter-disciplinary theme of ‘Light’. Indeed it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

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Social Foundations of Health: Applications for Vanderbilt MA Programme Now Open

The Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University is accepting applications to the M.A. program in the Social Foundations of Health.

The Vanderbilt University Center for Medicine, Health, and Society is a cutting-edge research and teaching center that boasts a growing cohort of interdisciplinary scholars, an expanding, innovative undergraduate and graduate curriculum, and a vibrant new center space. The center has quickly become a hub for pioneering research and teaching, providing students and the community at large with a critical framework for understanding complex health and healthcare issues.

The MA in the Social Foundations of Health emphasizes health disparities, interdisciplinary research, and critical perspectives on health and illness. The topically and methodologically broad curriculum draws on anthropology, history, psychology, sociology, ethics, policy studies, economics as well as Vanderbilt’s schools of medicine, nursing, law and public health. Through faculty research collaborations, students will acquire foundational skills that will help them pursue careers, or advanced degrees, in a wide array of health-related fields. Successful applicants are eligible for teaching assistantships and tuition scholarships.

Applications for fall 2014 admission are due January 15, 2014. Visit our website or contact us directly at to learn more about our program and the admissions process.

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