Author Archive

New book: ‘The Lobotomy Letters. The Making of American Psychosurgery’ (Mical Raz)

CfP: Interdisciplinary Conference ‘This is my Body’ (Cambridge, November 2013)

This is my Body

Monday, 18 November 2013 to Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Location: William Harvey Lecture Theatre, Addenbrooke’s Clinical School


Dr Olivia Will (Department of Surgery, Addenbrooke’s Hospital)

Dr Lucy Razzall (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)


The relationship between the mind and the body raises innumerable challenging questions across the arts, humanities, and social science disciplines. For those who come into professional contact with the human body every day in the National Health Service, the mind and the body are usually considered distinct from each other. This is even reflected in the organisational structure of the NHS, where mental health trusts are separate from other healthcare services. Any medical interpretation of the human body, even while it is grounded in empirical evidence, is also inevitably shaped by the intricacies of cultural context, but this is often overlooked in contemporary medicine.

Keynote speaker: Ludmilla Jordanova (KCL)

Call for Papers

This two-day conference aims to return human experience to the centre of medical discussion by bringing scholars of the body from across the arts, humanities, and social sciences together with medical and surgical practitioners from the National Health Service. In engaging with the human body from a wide range of perspectives, this conference will explore the ways in which understandings, experiences, and representations of the body beyond the traditional medical sphere might inform healing and healthcare. This interdisciplinary conference will be the first of its kind ever held at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and will establish an important new interface between the academy and the National Health Service.

We invite proposals (250 words) for 20-minute papers from graduate students and senior scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, and from medical students and medical/surgical professionals, which will offer disciplinary perspectives on the human body and experiences of embodiment. Papers could address, but are not restricted to, any aspect of the following:

  • physical and mental illness: treatment and recovery
  • roles, identities, and relationships of patients, carers, and doctors
  • injury, wounds, and healing
  • trauma and disfigurement
  • pain and suffering
  • gender and sexuality
  • life-cycles: birth, childhood, puberty, reproduction, ageing, frailty, death

Please email your proposal to Any informal enquiries may be addressed to the conveners, Olivia Will and Lucy Razzall. The deadline for submission is 31 July 2013.

For more information:

Sciences Humaines – Numéro spécial « Histoire des psychothérapies »

Pour son numéro de juin-juillet-août 2013, la revue Sciences Humaines se tourne vers les sciences “psy” avec un dossier spécial sur l’histoire des psychothérapies :

On les a isolés, ligotés, électrocutés, estourbis, magnétisés, purgés, trépanés, lobotomisés au pic à glace, masturbés au spéculum, on les a gavés de moutarde, de LSD, de haschich et d’opium, on les a ébouillantés, frigorifiés, hypnotisés, plongés dans le coma, on leur a fait des lavements au chloroforme…C’étaient les fous, et c’était pour leur bien. Ce dossier revient sur cette fascinante (et parfois effrayante) histoire, où ceux qui se disaient sains d’esprit ont voulu remettre les autres sur le droit chemin….

Pour plus d’informations, cliquer ici.

Article: Inventing the female self in Greenwich Village, 1900–1930: Mabel Dodge’s encounter with science and spirituality

The latest issue of Subjectivity features an article by Carla Christina Hustak entitled ‘Inventing the female self in Greenwich Village, 1900–1930: Mabel Dodge’s encounter with science and spirituality’.

Its abstract reads:

Through the case study of Mabel Dodge, the mystic of Greenwich Village, this article shows how new forms of knowledge and free love converged in a turn to interrogating the female self. Mabel Dodge’s practice of subjectivity is an early twentieth-century example of what Michel Foucault called the ‘hermeneutics of the subject’, a form of spirituality grounded in the pursuit of the ‘truth’ of the self. Dodge’s efforts to grasp her ‘secret concentrated essence’ reveal an early twentieth-century invention of a new feminist spirituality at the crossroads of occultism, social reform, and sciences of psychology and biology.

To access the entire article, click here.

CFP: Performing Science and Scientific Performance

Performing Science and Scientific Performance (2 Hour Session)

American Society for Theatre Research Conference 2013

November 7-10, Dallas, Texas

Conveners: Kati Sweaney, Northwestern University ( and Aileen Robinson, Northwestern University (

Scientists have a long history of adopting performance practices as a means of manufacturing professional authority. The public dissection theatres of early modern Europe, the 18th-century parlor-room demonstrations of everything from air-pumps to phrenology, the spectacular electricity shows of Tesla and Edison, the performing hysterics in the Tuesday lectures of Freud’s teacher Charcot, and the contemporary phenomenon of the TED conference—all these are not simply entertainments with a scientific theme. Each event adjudicates between critical performance practices, scientific ideas, and cultural authorities, enacting embodied relationships between scientists and objects. Because the interdisciplinary field of science studies seeks a broad cultural understanding of how scientific knowledge is made, it has vigorously taken up performance as a new critical lens (as the 2010 special issue of the science history journal Isis demonstrates). However, we have observed that little of this valuable contemporary work on scientific performance has been written by scholars of performance, and that most of such scholarship tends to use performance as a metaphor, rather than as a methodology. In this working session, we will open up a space for performance scholars to critically assess and contribute to scholarship in this field. We invite papers that interrogate the relationship between the truth-making claims of science and performance, broadly understood. Possible topics for inquiry include:

  • Historical scientific demonstrations
  • Contemporary bioart
  • Medical performance art and body art
  • Plays that concern science and scientists
  • “Performance” as a scientific virtue, a la Jon McKenzie
  • Methodological inquiries into the forms of science as performance
  • Science performance within specific spaces—museums, archives, universities
  •  Pedagogical performance of science within schools and universities

We invite 500-word proposals that include an abstract for your ASTR paper submission as well as a brief description of your current work. Please include full contact information and organizational affiliation (if any) on both your proposal and your email and send your proposal to both conveners by June 3, 2013.

Participants will submit a 10-12 (2,500-3,000 words) page draft of their paper by October 1 to the conveners. A bibliography will be circulated in the summer for the benefit of the participants; two small readings will be highly encouraged to establish common discussion points. Between October 1 and the ASTR conference, participants will be divided into small groups in which they will read each other papers and a forum will be set up for discussing major and minor themes within the works. Major edits and commentary will be discussed during the conference itself.

This working session seeks to address questions of science and performance through methodological lenses; therefore, the working group will be arranged around a two-hour format discussion format, dedicated to addressing issues and questions that arose within individual submissions. The first hour will incorporate introductions followed by a breakout session. In this session, previously arranged groups will discuss the larger issues raised at this meeting in relationship to their specific work and papers. The goal of the breakout session will be twofold: 1) to workshop/further troubleshoot individual papers; 2) to address questions and ideas pertinent to the larger interests of the group in a smaller setting. The final stage of the group will be a large group discussion forum, where questions of methodology, practice, and research can be productively followed.

Kati Sweaney

Northwestern University
Ph.D. Candidate, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Theatre & Drama

Assistant Master, Shepard Residential College

Graduate Teaching Fellow, Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching

Freud Museum Annual Lecture 2013: How Well Does Freud’s Work Stand the Test of Time? (Allen Frances, MD)

Freud Museum Annual Lecture 2013

The Freud Museum and King’s College London
The Freud Memorial Lecture 2013
Dr. Allen Frances:
How Well Does Freud’s Work Stand the Test of Time?

5 June 2013 7.30pm (doors open at 7.15pm)
Edmond J Safra Theatre, King’s College London, The Strand, WC2R 2LS
Allen Frances, MD, was the Chair of the Task Force that prepared the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), often called the bible of the American psychiatric profession. However, he has been a vocal critic of the new DSM V, condemning what he calls its diagnostic hyperinflation. His new book, Saving Normal, is part mea culpa, part j‘accuse, and part cri de coeur. It explores why psychiatry has always been subject to so many fads, while deploring the medicalization of everyday human experience and the excessive use of psychiatric medicine.
In the prestigious Freud Memorial Lecture, Dr Frances argues that the current under-estimation of Freud is in part the price for his having been overestimated during his lifetime. ‘It is unwise to worship Freud or the DSM as bibles – but equally unwise not to know them,’ he says. His lecture will draw attention to which of Freud’s contributions he thinks still relevant, which quaint historical artefacts.
A graduate of the Columbia University Psychoanalytic Center, where he taught the Freud course for ten years, Allen Francie is now Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, where previously he was Chair.
Convenor: Lisa Appignanesi, Chair of the Freud Museum and visiting Professor in Literature and the Medical Humanities, Kings College London.
The Freud Memorial Lecture is a leading event in the Freud Museum London Events Calendar. In past years it has been delivered by such luminaries as Edward Said, Slavoj Zizek, Adam Phillips and Michael Brearley.

Advance booking recommended. Tickets are free for King’s staff and students.
Contact or +44 (0)20 7435 2002

How I Became a Historian of Psychiatry: George Makari

We are delighted to present an interview with George Makari, M.D., as part of our “How I Became a Historian of Psychiatry” series. Dr. Makari is a historian, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, serves as Director of The DeWitt Wallace Institute of Psychiatry and the Oskar Diethelm Library at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he is also a Professor, and is the author of Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis (NY: Harper Collins, 2008). He has kindly agreed to share with us his intellectual trajectory.  

How did your interest in the history of psychiatry develop?

I would say fortuitously. The origins of something like that, for me at least, started out in a much more general kind of interest. I came from a family of doctors and it was always assumed that I would become a doctor too; I actually got into medical school out of high school, so there was a road paved in front of me. However, when I was doing my undergraduate studies I became very interested in history, literary studies and writing. Part of the challenge then was to integrate these two interests. After my undergraduate education, I spent a year as a newspaper book reviewer and did some volunteer work in a child psychiatry department. I was trying to discover how I might  combine these things that I felt very committed to, which were writing and helping others, trying to be someone who had that kind of direct impact on people. It was also a time when Foucault was extremely influential, and Janet Malcolm wrote In the Freud Archives. It became increasingly exciting for me to imagine that I could integrate my interests by writing and being a psychiatrist. That writing eventually took the form of history.

The second thing I should mention was the importance of my intellectual community. You can have all these ideas about what you might be or do, but it’s very important to have a community that in some ways supports those inklings and helps them develop. As a medical student, I came to Payne Whitney (Cornell), where there was this extraordinary division that studied the history of psychiatry and was interdisciplinary – there were a lot of doctors and there were a lot of historians and these people were doing very exciting work. So that made it all seem very natural that I could do those things too.

At which point did you think, “I’m going to write a book”?

Well, that I’m afraid is a long story too! I started a project that was much narrower and much more defined, which was a history of transference theory and its relationship to German philosophy and medicine. I saw the potential for something really interesting about how this theory came from interesting currents in European philosophy and culture. And the pre-existing literature claimed the theory was de novo, came from Freud’s originality alone. So I took that project one step at a time and first researched the earliest use of transference as a notion in Freud. And then I moved on to the next one: I wrote a series of papers. Eventually, I thought, at the end of the day I’ll string all these papers together and I’ll have a monograph on the history of transference theory.

But a funny thing happened on the way. I had gotten a grant from the International Psychoanalytical Association and that really helped me do a lot more archival work in Europe. I ended up coming home with tons of new information from archives —all sorts of things that seemed important. So I tried stick these newer discoveries into that smaller project. I stuffed all of this good material into a book proposal that I prepared on transference. If anyone reading this interview is in the process of writing a book proposal, I suggest that you get the smartest person you can find to rake you over the coals before you write the book. That’s what I did, and again this has to do with having a generative community here at the Institute.

This discussion about my book proposal went badly, and it ended up being about how there were really two books in my proposal: one about transference and another about much broader issues in the history of the field. Feeling defensive, I argued that if someone else had written a book on the origins and development of psychoanalysis as a field in Europe, I wouldn’t have to put all that stuff in there, I could just refer to that work. But, I blurted out, in fact no one had written such a book. When I said that—when I heard myself say that—I was a bit taken aback. It seemed like that couldn’t possibly be true. But the more I thought about it, I was dismayed to recognize that it was true. No serious book had been written about the creation, consolidation, crisis and reworking of psychoanalysis before the collapse of Europe. And at that moment—actually it wasn’t a moment, it was a couple of very uncomfortable weeks, I transformed the book I had long planned into the one I now would write.

It was an organic process that involved knowing exactly where one wants to go, getting lost in archives and research, and then rediscovering a way that is more dictated by the materials and the opportunities they offered.

Once the book came out, did you find that its reception differed amongst the two communities (physicians and historians)?

They definitely have different approaches to it. I’m a bit spoiled because the reception has been extremely positive on both sides. But different people were interested in different aspects of the book. I think historians of medicine and historians of modern European culture responded to the way that intellectual history was integrated into social and political history; to the way I employed notions of discursive communities to link those two things and not have theories and concepts kind of floating out in space. Since much of historical discipline tends toward social history, they appreciated that integration.

I think the physicians, the psychiatrists, and especially the psychoanalysts who care so deeply about their history, appreciated how rich this restored tapestry was; in a way, they knew a very threadbare version of their own past. And I think they responded to the book in relationship to the contemporary struggles within psychoanalysis. Some at least felt that this account held important lessons about how truth claims are made, how they’re verified, how they’re not verified in psychoanalysis; they saw this – as opposed to standard great man biographies – as an attempt to understand the psychoanalytic community—what led to schisms, what’s led to the orthodoxy, the kinds of struggles and turbulence that community has had and still has.

On your side, how has this awareness of the history of psychiatry influenced the way in which you treat patients, and vice versa, how does being a psychiatrist affect the way in which you practice history?

It’s complicated because on the one hand, the obvious answer would be that studying history relativizes your view of any particular truth claim from the present. And that’s in fact partially so.  Historical mindedness does make me think differently about diagnostic categories, about claims for different novel advances. Right now, for example, it makes you turn a cold eye toward a lot of the claims that are coming from neuroscience and the psychopharmaceutical industry. It allows you to at times adopt an Olympian view, which can be very helpful. But the problem with that is that patients are coming to me for help. So I have to be committed to something; I have to be engaged in a way that will be helpful. You can’t sit there and philosophize about what this category error means about our culture. So in a way it forces you to take a stand, even in a situation where you have only a limited level of certainty, about how to benefit and console patients of different sorts. In that sense I think it’s been a really interesting process, but not an obvious one at all.

In terms of how being a psychiatrist affects my being an historian, that’s a touchy question, because what I’m very much not is a psycho-historian. Given the excesses of psychoanalyzing the history of psychoanalysis, I took great pains to not speculate about the inner states and inner motivations of the players in the book [Revolution in Mind]. At the same time, I would be a liar if I didn’t say that my experience studying character and human behaviour aren’t all over that book. When anyone tries to deeply understand a historical character, reading letters or diaries, going through their choices, you need to somehow pull together a sense of who they were. For example, sometimes there’ll be these telling moments, ones that literature uses to great affect. Flaubert was a genius at this. I think about those kinds of things every day, for seven or eight hours a day. So I am sure that process does not stop when I think about historical characters and how they negotiate their internal and external worlds.

Many thanks to Dr. Makari for this fascinating interview!

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