Discussion: Hanna Pickard “Responsibility without Blame: Philosophical Reflections on Clinical Practice”

At the next PPRG meeting Larisa Svirsky will lead a discussion of Hanna Pickard’s paper “Responsibility without Blame: Philosophical Reflections on Clinical Practice”–including a commentary by Lisa Ward (Chapter 66 of The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry, pp.1134-1154).

Abstract: “Effective treatment of disorders of agency presents a clinical conundrum. Many of the core symptoms or maintaining factors are actions and omissions that cause harm to self and others. Encouraging service users to take responsibility for this behavior is central to treatment. Blame, in contrast, is detrimental. How is it possible to hold service users responsible for actions and omissions that cause harm without blaming them? A solution to this problem is part conceptual, part practical. This chapter offers a conceptual framework that clearly distinguishes between ideas of responsibility, blameworthiness, and “detached” and “affective” blame. It argues that affective blame is detrimental to effective treatment. And it suggests that affective blame can be avoided by attention to service users’ past history, which directly evokes compassion and empathy. Finally, the chapter briefly considers whether the clinical stance of responsibility without blame should be adopted in non-clinical interpersonal and social contexts.”

We will meet on Wednesday, Oct 1. from 7:00pm-8:30pm in room 213 of Caldwell Hall. Refreshments will be provided. RSVP to Dan if you plan to attend or would like a copy of the reading.

Literature, Medicine, and Culture Colloquium

On Friday, October 3, the Literature, Medicine, and Culture Colloquium (in conjunction with the IAH) is hosting three events featuring a visiting speaker, Melissa Littlefield. 

Melissa Littlefield is Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her PhD in English and Women’s Studies from Penn State University in 2005. Since then, she has published The Lying Brain: Lie Detection in Science and Science Fiction (Michigan, 2011), co-edited The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain (Michigan, 2012), and has published articles in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Social Studies of Science, American Literary History, and Science, Technology & Human Values. She also co-edits the journal Configurations, the journal of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA). 

The events are as follows: 

10:00 a.m. in Gaskin Library – Melissa will speak to graduate students about “Getting Published in Science Studies.” (Of course, faculty are welcome to attend as well.) 

1:00 p.m. in the Incubator Room, Hyde Hall – Melissa will participate in a roundtable discussion with faculty in English, Medicine, Social Medicine, and allied fields on “Doing Interdisciplinary Research.” Lunch will be provided for the first 20 participants. Please RSVP to jenni26@live.unc.edu 

3:00 p.m. in the University Room, Hyde Hall – Melissa will deliver a talk on “Brainwriting? The Neuroscientific Turn in Handwriting Analysis.” 

Abstract: Graphology, or the study of handwriting for clues about character, has been a popular American pastime for nearly two centuries. During this time, various graphologists have relied on the phrase “handwriting is brainwriting” as a means of legitimating their practice. The assumption here is that if graphology seeks access to the self, it is able to do so because of connections between the hand and the brain. In this presentation, I unpack the phrase “handwriting is brainwriting” by looking for convergences between graphology and the neurosciences. I ask: why neuroscience and graphology might ostensibly share the brain as a common locus of self? And how do both diagnostic technologies potentially construct the self as stable and knowable via a transparent human body? Drawing on historical media, non-fiction source material, and scientific sources, I argue that graphology and the neurosciences share several ideological assumptions that allow a phrase such as “handwriting is brainwriting” to proliferate.

Film Discussion: Lauren Greenfield’s “Thin”

At the next PPRG meeting Molly Gardner will lead a discussion of Lauren Greenfield’s 2006 documentary “Thin.” The film is available streaming via Amazon Prime. We will meet on Wednesday, September 17 from 7:30pm-9:00pm in room 213 of Caldwell Hall. Refreshments will be provided. RSVP to Dan if you plan to attend or have any questions about the meeting.

Note: we are meeting 30 minutes later than usual so that the PPRG meeting does not conflict with the PPE talk by David Lefkowitz that meets in room 105 of Caldwell Hall from 6:00pm-7:30pm.