As the editor of this bog, I am going to do what it is I am always encouraging my colleagues in the Centre for Medical Humanities, and indeed the medical and health humanities community more broadly, to do, and that is write a short post on a recent publication. I’d also like to mark a not-insignificant milestone: this is the 250th post on this blog, which has, in a little over a year, recorded over 21,000 hits from readers across the world.
The Sublime Object of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory was published in August 2011 in the Oxford University Press series International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry. My work on this book began (over ten years ago!) in what was then called the Department of English with Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, a scholarly environment which celebrated inter- and trans-disciplinary thinking and fostered, at least in me, a profound curiosity about the ways concepts travel and translate across very different discursive spaces. It was this curiosity which lead me to the medical humanities, a field which I think is ideally positioned to mount “inquiries into how culture structures knowledge production in medicine, and how medical, in this case psychiatric, terms are in turn used to interpret cultural phenomena.”
The Sublime Object of Psychiatry is a study of the way schizophrenia functions across multiple discourses: biological and phenomenological psychiatry, psychoanalysis, critical psychology, antipsychiatry and postmodern philosophy. Since arriving in Durham, I have been incredibly fortunate to have my thinking and writing enriched and challenged in a range of contexts: through becoming part of a dynamic interdisciplinary team at the CMH, through ongoing collaboration with Matthew Ratcliffe and others in two of his major projects (the Emotions and Feelings in Psychiatric Illness AHRC network and the Emotional Experience in Depression project), through discussions with Pat Waugh on the cultural logics of pathology in relation to modern and postmodern literature, through participating in the development of the ambitious Hearing the Voice project, and by presenting my work at two annual conferences of the International Network for Philosophy and Psychiatry, where I have been lucky enough to meet and speak with psychiatrists, clinicians and experts by experience.
Publishing a first book can’t help but feel like an endpoint – the culmination of ten years of research and writing – but I hope it is also the beginning of a whole new series of conversations. Full details of the book are available here, and you can download the introduction from the OUP web site. If you feel moved to comment on any aspect of the ideas it raises, please feel free to get in touch or leave your thoughts below!