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Events: Anti-Psychiatry and Psychical Research

It's already shaping up to be a good year for events and exhibitions in the history of psychiatry and psychology. First up is a conference at UCL at the end of this month, on the topic of Psychical Research and Parapsychology in the History of Medicine and the Sciences. As we have previously mentioned in this blog, physicians at Bethlem in the late nineteenth century were optimistic about the possibilities for hypnosis and suggestion in the treatment of mental illness, and many of them experimented in this field. Daniel Hack Tuke, a long-term governor of the hospital, was particularly interested in the connections between mind and body, and how the physician might make use of these in the cure of physical (as well as mental) illness. Tuke appears to have coined the term 'psycho-therapeutics' to describe these effects in his 1872 Illustrations of the Influence of the Mind and Body in Health and Disease (expanded in 1884). As this conference will demonstrate, research in experimental psychology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has often been closely associated with the investigation of phenomena perceived to be supernatural (many, but not all, of which were explained in psychological terms by members of organisations devoted to the study of the paranormal). The conference costs just £90 (£60 for students) for three days. The full conference programme is available online here, and tickets can be booked in the UCL Online Shop.

Meanwhile, a series of events at Nottingham Contemporary on 12-13 February explores Anti-Psychiatry and its legacies. Those who visited the recent Turner Prize Exhibition at the Tate will already be familiar with the work of Luke Fowler, whose film exploring the life of Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing was nominated for the prize. All Divided Selves combined archive footage with new material, to create an evocative portrait of the doctor whose The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness (1960) was influential in the anti-psychiatry movement. Another of Fowler's films, Bogman Palmjaguar, will be screened on the second evening, following the legal battle of a trained conservationist and certified paranoid schizophrenic against this diagnosis. As with the previous evening's film (Dora Garcia's The Deviant Majority, From Basaglia to Brazil), the screening will be followed by a panel discussion with clinicians, philosophers and historians. The events are free, and can be booked online at the Nottingham Contemporary website.