Schizophrenia: The future of our fascination

3 July 2012

Presenter: Dr Angela Woods, Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University
Angela Woods is a researcher in medical humanities and co-director of 'Hearing the Voice', a large interdisciplinary study of voice-hearing funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award. She has a PhD in literary and cultural studies from the University of Melbourne, and her first book The Sublime Object of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory was published as part of OUP's 'International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry' series in 2011.

Schizophrenia has been psychiatry's most consistently and perhaps most passionately contested diagnostic category. One hundred years after Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler proposed 'schizophrenia' as a replacement for the cumbersome 'dementia praecox,' there is still no consensus over whether it is best seen as a 'disabling and baffling brain disease', a 'multidimensional psychotic syndrome', or a scientific fiction and stigmatising label. The launch in the last ten months of not one but two independent investigations - the Schizophrenia Commission and the Inquiry into the 'Schizophrenia' Label - show that these debates, at least in the UK, show no signs of disappearing.

The aim of Dr Woods' talk is neither to inflame nor to resolve the many controversies surrounding schizophrenia, but to shed some light on how and why they developed. As well as naming some extreme forms of human suffering, schizophrenia, Dr Woods will argue, schizophrenia was positioned over the course of the twentieth century as an object of growing clinical, scientific, political and cultural fascination. What was it that so compelled 'our' attention? And what, if anything, has changed?

Places are limited. If you wish to attend, please register by email:

Sponsored by: Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine
Organised by: Dr Estelle Noonan, Co-ordinator, Medical Humanities Program

Time: 2pm

Location: The Refectory, Quadrangle, Camperdown campus

Contact: Lindy Gaze

Email: 5c5d3c100e7a28090331361c3c2f2f521f5f523e5a16121e