Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Renewing Phenomenological Psychopathology: The Launch

This post is by Lucienne Spencer (University of Birmingham). In this post she is reporting on the launch of a new project, Renewing Phenomenological Psychopathology. 

The project aims to apply interdisciplinary approaches to phenomenological psychopathology and diversify the field more broadly. It is funded by a Wellcome Trust International Exchange Award and will run from April 2022 to April 2024. The project leads are Matthew Broome and Giovanni Stanghellini. Lucienne Spencer is the post-doctoral researcher on the project, and Roxana Baiasu is research fellow and network convener. 

Organisers Lucienne Spencer,
Matthew Broome, and Roxana Baiasu

Thanks to the generous support of the Wellcome Trust, the Renewing Phenomenological Psychopathology project was formally launched last week at the University of Birmingham and via Zoom. This was a one-day hybrid event, with online and in-person panels running simultaneously. Through this launch event, we invited critical reflection on new directions for the field of phenomenological psychopathology. In total we had fifteen excellent speakers from multiple backgrounds and of all career stages. We had around fifty in person attendees and over 100 online attendees.

Following introductions from the project team, our launch event was kicked off by our first keynote speaker Dr Robert Chapman from Sheffield Hallam University, with their talk entitled ‘Marx and Mental Health: Alienation in a Post-Fordist Era’. In this talk, Robert focused on experiences of mental illness and disablement in a post-Fordist era, with an emphasis on this era’s heavy reliance on cognitive and emotional labour.

Presentation by Robert Chapman

This was followed by our second keynote, Dr Lucy Bolton from Queen Mary University of London, with her talk entitled ‘Fear Itself, and Not the Statement “I Am afraid”: Film Phenomenology: Consciousness, Bodies, and Lived Experience’. Here, Lucy traces back the development of film-phenomenology in order to demonstrate that phenomenology as an approach to film is enabling for both the film and those who encounter it. She argued that this open, receptive, and inclusive orientation is grounded in the recognition of a variety of possibilities, not all of which are reducible to neat theoretical categories.

The launch event was brought to a close by our final keynote speaker, Professor Kevin Aho from Florida Gulf Coast University in the U.S., with his talk entitled: Phenomenological Psychopathology in the Age of Anti-Depressants. Kevin argued that the medicalisation of mental illness and the overprescribing of antidepressants is a very real problem and that antidepressants can be valuable from a phenomenological perspective insofar as they act on the meaning-structures that are disrupted in mental illness.

The RPP team would like to say a *big* thank you to all those who participated in our launch event, included those who presented talks in the parallel sessions and whose talks I could not summarise here. 
For those who missed our launch event, you’re in luck! We will be uploading all the talks onto our website. If you would like to sign up to the mailing list for the RPP project to get updates on our latest funding calls and events, we warmly encourage you to contact us

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