Archive for January, 2010

United States v. Comstock

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last month in the case of the United States v. Comstock.  The case involves establishing the limits of the state’s power to use civil commitment law to institutionalize sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences.  While the case heard before the Supreme Court largely centers on the more or less technical matter of whether the federal government may usurp individual states’ rights in this regard, it has brought national media attention to a development that has been on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic – the use of commitment laws and/or psychiatric facilities to detain convicts, most without a readily apparent diagnosis.  Over the course of the 20th century, countries have adopted a variety of approaches to this issue:  the Institution for Psychopathic Criminals in Denmark, social-therapeutic facilities in the Federal Republic of Germany, and, more recently, long-stay facilities in the Netherlands.

Read the transcript of the Supreme Court hearing here:  http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1224.pdf

Conference: “Brain and Self: The Problems of Psychiatric Nosology”

Brain and Self. Psychiatric Nosology: Definition, History and Validity

The field of psychiatry is again undergoing a major re-examination of its classification system. The two major nosologic systems – DSM and ICD – are both currently undergoing revisions. This conference – to be held April 21-23, 2010 in Copenhagen under the sponsorship of the University of Copenhagen (Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Subjectivity Research; Psychiatric Center Hvidovre; PhD School, Faculty of Health Sciences) – will examine the conceptual and philosophical bases for psychiatric diagnoses. The conference is organized into 5 sessions:

i) The Basics – The Definition of Psychiatric Illness and Rules for Classification,
ii) The Historical Development of Modern Psychiatric Diagnoses,
iii) Concepts of Validity in Psychology and Psychiatry,
iv) Application to Major Depression and Schizophrenia and
v) The Way(s) Forward.

For more informations, click here.

The Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar – Spring 2010

January 6
Alfred I. Tauber, M.D., Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University.
“Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher”
February 3
Katharina Trede, M.D., Boston University Medical Center.
“Treatise on Insanity in Pregnant, Postpartum, and Lactating Women (1858) by Louis-Victor Marce: A Commentary”
February 17
Linda Hopkins, Ph.D.
“Donald Winnicott and Masud Khan: The Failure of a Long Analysis”
March 3
Laura Hirshbein, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan.
“Smoking and Mental Illness: The Tobacco Industry Perspective”
March 17
Eliza Slavet, Ph.D., Department of Literature and Program in Religious Studies,
University of California, San Diego.
“On Racial Fever: Freud and the Jewish Question”
April 7
Bonnie Evans, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History and Philosophy of Science,
University of Cambridge.
“Mapping the end of mental deficiency legislation: The Subnormal, Psychotic, and Autistic Children of 1960s Britain”
April 21
Bennett Simon, M.D., Harvard Medical School. Aaron Esman Lecture
“From Plato to Mondrian: A Journey towards a Geometry of the Mind (with Optional Excursions to the Book of Ezekiel and to Samuel Beckett)”
May 5
Katja Guenther, M.D., Ph.D., History of Science Program, Princeton University.
“Words as Scalpels: Psychiatry and Neurosurgery in Wilhelmine Germany”
May 19
Anne Harrington, Ph.D.,
Department of the History of Science, Harvard University.
Eric T. Carlson Memorial Lecture: Grand Rounds, Uris Auditorium “Buddhism in the clinic and the lab: from Freud to Fromm to the Dalai Lama.”
Richardson Seminar, Room F1190
“The Inner Lives of Broken Brains: Historical and Contemporary Explorations”
For more informations, click here

CFP – International Health Humanities Conference 2010 “Madness and Literature”

1ST INTERNATIONAL HEALTH HUMANITIES CONFERENCE 2010

Madness and Literature”

The Institute of Mental Health is hosting The 1st International Health Humanities Conference at The University of Nottingham, UK from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th AUGUST 2010.

The theme of the conference, Madness and Literature, seeks to bring critical focus to three areas:

Literature, Psychiatry, Philosophy

Reflecting the interdisciplinary work of the Institute of Mental Health, and the multifaceted nature of the conference’s theme, we invite the participation of colleagues from both the humanities and from clinical backgrounds who wish to participate in an exploration of the conceptions of “Madness and Literature”. Furthermore, to be genuinely inclusive we encourage presentations arising from completed projects and work that is in progress or of an exploratory nature.

The Institute of Mental Health welcomes abstracts of approximately 250 words in length for twenty-minute papers in English dealing with the themes outlined above. We would also welcome the organization of panels (consisting of three speakers and a moderator) dealing with specific issues related to the overall themes of the conference. Issues to be considered at the conference may include:

  • What are the critical intersections between literature, psychiatry and philosophy?
  • How and why is psychiatry reflected and represented in fiction?
  • In what ways do fiction and autobiography treat issues such as gender, ethnicity, age, economics, sexuality and power in psychiatry?
  • How far can we pursue ideas concerning creativity and madness?
  • How might debates about literature and madness influence or be influenced by other disciplines, such as anthropology and sociology?
  • How can literature influence the education and practice of medical, health and allied disciplines?
  • What can literary studies learn from the ‘psych’ disciplines?

The Institute of Mental Health foresees the publication of papers (expanded, revised and submitted to a peer-review process) in one or more volumes post-conference, according to principles of intellectual and theoretical coherence that will give such publications editorial consistency.

Please send your abstracts as a Word attachment by email to Paul Crawford paul.crawford@nottingham.ac.uk by 5th February 2010.

For more informations, click here.

From Madness to Mental Health

Available beginning February 15, this anthology of primary sources chronicles the history of madness and psychiatry in western civilization, from ancient Israel to contemporary randomized clinical trials.  It also includes an updated bibliography of first-person narratives of mental illness compiled by Gail A. Hornstein. For more information click here.

To hear an interview with the author, click here.

Asylum of San Servolo

In the latest issue of  Psychiatrie Sciences Humaines Neurosciences the French psychiatrist  Granger tells the story of San Servolo, an island situated between San Marco and the Lido, from the 11th century on: first as the seat of a convent than of a mental hospital till its closure in the 1970s thanks to  the law n°180.

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Call for Paper – EASA, 2010: Crisis and resolution: imagination and the transformation of psychiatric care

Psychiatry represents an institution at the intersection of social solidarity and exclusion, with the specific configuration of these two elements differing in various historical and cultural contexts. Looking at the history of psychiatric care, one could argue that its evolutions were achieved through various crises (the crisis of the asylum and the anti-psychiatry movement, psychiatry’s inability to care for mentally ill living in the streets, human rights abuses…). For various reasons, the resolutions of these crises often relied on the creativity of groups or individuals with very practical consequences for introducing new forms of care – Basaglia’s proposals are just one compelling example among many. Often through such creative solutions, all Western countries have undertaken significant reorganization of their psychiatric care systems in the past 50 years, which also inspired changes to psychiatric care in less developed countries.

This workshop calls for reflection on the impact of ‘crisis rhetoric’ with regard to specific social, political and legal circumstances, and the role of imagination in informing the practices of caring and curing. We aim to explore how ideas on the appropriate forms of psychiatric care reflect specific cultural expectations and ideologies, and how the role of family, community, profession and the state in taking care of the mentally ill is negotiated in different contexts. Finally, we want to address the ways in which the anthropological perspective and research has been involved in, and is still challenged by these transformations.

For more informations, click here.

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