Call for Papers: Alternative Psychiatric Narratives (London)

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Call for Papers: Alternative Psychiatric Narratives

This conference will take place on the afternoon of Friday 16 May, and
all
day on Saturday 17 May 2014, at Birkbeck College, London, United Kingdom

Chair: Professor Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck

In recent years, historians of psychiatry have heeded Roy Porter’s call
to produce psychiatric histories from the patient’s point of view.
Studies have moved on from focusing on medical discourse to
investigating the diversity of the patient population, their varied
experiences, and their pathways to and from psychiatric institutions.
Only just beginning, however, is work which pays attention to
alternative narratives of psychiatry: individuals and accounts that have
been excluded or overlooked in the midst of this focus upon doctor and
patient. These include the experiences of those located outside formal
psychiatric spaces and relationships, from families and non-medical
staff, to activists and campaigners, as well as narratives taking
unconventional forms or found in unexpected places, offering alternative
readings of sites, spaces, or texts, or challenging the very ways in
which psychiatric narratives could or should be expressed and used.

This conference seeks to contribute to the development of these
alternative narratives of psychiatry (in the broadest sense of the term)
by exploring the voices and experiences of those involved in the
non-institutional, non-formal aspects of psychiatry, and by
investigating new ways to access all aspects of psychiatric experience,
from the early modern period to today. This will be a space to discuss
wide ranging (alternative) narratives of psychiatry, representations of
psychiatry over time, and the methods and meanings behind this work from
a range of disciplinary perspectives.

Proposals for 20 minute papers touching on any aspects of alternative
psychiatric narratives are welcomed from postgraduate and early career
researchers across the humanities and social sciences. Possible topics
might include (but are not limited to):

Alternative methodologies (such as oral history, social geography,
ethnography, and more)

Histories of familial and community care

Representations of psychiatry in literature, theatre, art, music and the
media

Disability theories and histories in relation to the history of
psychiatry and mental health

Reforms, campaigns, and histories of activism and the psychiatric
survivor movement

Alternative views of traditional psychiatric sites such as asylums,
hospitals, clinics

Developments, experiences and perceptions of auxiliary and support staff

Questions of space, time, culture and locality

The gendering of psychiatric spaces, diagnoses and treatments

Changing therapeutic identities over time

Race and ethnicity, and other hidden dimensions of psychiatric history

The classic sick role: its history, consequences and alternatives

Medical texts and their role in shaping psychiatric stories

The problems with psychiatric narratives: authenticity and authority,
uses and abuses

Those interested in presenting a paper should email a short proposal
(max. 300 words) to AltPsychiatricNarratives AT gmail.com by Monday 3rd
March
2014.

For more information, visit the conference blog here.

  1. This call for papers reminds me of the recent elevation of “outsider art” that takes clinical material (often sensational in nature) in order to aestheticize it, rather like the visits to Bedlam that Roy Porter excoriated. See http://clarespark.com/2009/06/04/modernity-and-mass-death/, especially the section on a museum exhibition in Los Angeles, California. “Modernity and mass death”.

  2. The World Health Report 2001 explains that one in four people suffer from a mental illness. That means that mental illness is effecting hundreds of millions of individuals around the Globe. If you’re a business – providing therapy to individuals inflicted – does not make a very interesting business model because – of the high staff costs involved – and because such a model would mean a lot of competition. A medicine based approach – does provide a scalable business model.
    It is of no surprise – that this is exactly the strategy – that big business has chosen. For almost all mental illness – there is a medicine based approach.
    I am a psychosis sufferer and the side effects of this medicine based approach has been detrimental to my well being. In the past psychosis sufferers have received heroine, opium and cocaine for example. These solutions were all introduced by drug companies – as the best solution for society. Today there are anti-psychotics. The side-effects are really nasty of these drugs. Furthermore, a scientifically proven method called: Open Dialogue – from Finland has been around for more than 20 years. However, this understanding – is being purposefully kept – from other psychiatrists, policy makers and patients. Because, it is a therapy based approach – that does not provide an interesting business model. Now, this understanding is slowly spreading.
    With depression it is no different. The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide there are 350 million depression sufferers (Fact Sheet April 2016). The answer – from drug companies is coming up with anti-depressants. From 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13%, according to a report published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Also anti-depressants can have detrimental side-effects. However, it is becoming more and more apparent – that alternative treatments – are similarly effective – without medication. Several studies show that psychotherapy (particularly cognitive therapy, behavioral activation, and interpersonal therapy) compares favorably with medication in the short-term, even when the depression is severe, and appears superior to medications over the long term (Antonuccio 2002). Again, this does not make a great business model for drug companies.
    Drug companies – especially their marketing department – have come up with strategies – to make drug use more prevalent and combat – increased understanding – that effectively – do not involve side effects from drugs. As an example – at psychiatric wards around the world – psychiatrists are stimulated – not to take the what they call incomprehensible communication of psychosis sufferers seriously – although it has been proven – Open Dialogue – that by doing so psychotic levels are lowered. Thus, more medication is necessary – and medication becomes the only alternative from coming out of a black hole.
    Academics around the globe have been hired by drug companies for their strategies. Governments have been tricked – or bought. Mental hospitals – chose strategies – to keep patients ill – since the science is now out there – so they are also to blame.
    I think it is time we start sending a lot of these crooks to jail for crimes against humanity. Especially – because – only now it is being more and more scientifically proven that love, understanding and healthy choices – in almost all cases solves mental illness. Has this understanding been around, since the beginning of time and has there been a lot of scientific misleading of humanity! I know the latter – but I can’t scientifically prove it!

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