Des Fitzgerald and Felicity Callard on ‘Experimental Entanglements: Re-thinking the dynamics of interaction across the social sciences and neurosciences’, 8 May 2014, Durham, 5.15 -7.15 pm

Quantum-EntanglementThe next seminar in the Hearing the Voice Research Seminar series, featuring a presentation by Dr Des Fitzgerald (King’s College London) and Dr Felicity Callard (Durham University) on ‘Experimental Entanglements: Re-thinking the dynamics of interaction across the social sciences and neurosciences’ will take place in the Birley Room at Hatfield College at Durham University (number 20 on this map) on Thursday 8 May 2014, 5.15 pm – 7.15 pm.

Abstract: Interactions between the social sciences and neurosciences are increasingly hard to avoid these days – both in institutions committed to ‘interdisciplinary’ engagements between these domains, and in often worried accounts from the field. However, this paper proposes a new way of understanding, and interacting with, these developments. Starting from the position that contemporary opportunities for collaboration between social scientists and neuroscientists need to be taken seriously, this paper asks how we are to imagine and theorize these emerging possibilities. It argues that the first step in this imaginary act must be to set ourselves against a bloodless and sterile rhetoric of ‘interdisciplinarity, ’and to instead pursue a much more bold and risky sense of what an experimental approach can look like in this space. The paper analyses existing frameworks for understanding the dynamics between the social- and neuro-sciences, and argues that these (whether enthusiastic or horrified) all take place within ‘the régime of the inter-’, a subterranean frame that interprets interaction ‘between’ disciplines on the basis of their fundamental separateness. The paper argues that, contra this régime, it is no longer practicable or desirable to maintain a hygienic separation between sociocultural webs and neurobiological architecture, whose entanglements remain indifferent to disciplinary ethos and history. But more importantly, it suggests that the cognitive neuroscientific experiment, as a rich space of epistemological and ontological excess, offers a still-mostly-uncharted space for researchers, from all disciplines, to understand, explore and register the outcomes of this realization.

Anyone with an interest in Hearing the Voice research is welcome to attend. If you would like to reserve a place please contact Victoria Patton.

The final Hearing the Voice research seminar in the 2013-2014 series can be found below, with more events to be scheduled in the next academic year.

Thursday 12 June 2014
Dr Sam Wilkinson (Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Philosophy, Durham University) on ‘Hearing identity: the (re)presentation of other agents in auditory verbal hallucinations’

All seminars will take place in the Birley Room at Hatfield College from 5 pm to 7 pm. For more information, please contact Victoria Patton.

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2014 World Hearing Voices Congress: ‘Odysseying with the Sirens – Struggling Towards Recovery in Times of Crisis’, Greece, 10-12 October 2014

 World Hearing Voices Congress 2014

Working in partnership with Intervoice, the Hellenic Hearing Voices Network and the Hellenic Observatory for Rights in the Field of Mental Health will be hosting the 6th World Hearing Voices Congress on 10-12 October 2014 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Bringing together world-leading experts on voices and recovery, the congress will feature research presentations, personal recovery narratives, talks on local networks and initiatives, experiential workshops and interactive sessions.  For more information, please see the 2014 World Hearing Voices Congress website.


  Before 10 August 2014 After 11 August 2014
Waged/Professionals €140 €160
Unemployed/Unwaged/Students €70 €90

 In order to register, please complete the online registration form.


Intervoice and the Hellenic Hearing Voices Network are currently seeking submissions for conference papers, interactive workshops and alternative modes of presentation such as documentaries, artworks, theatre and musical performances.  All submissions must be submitted electronically via email.  Abstracts and presentations can be in English or Greek.

Please submit an MS Word file, including the following information:

  • Type of presentation (paper, workshop, performance etc.)
  • Title of presentation
  • Author(s)
  • Author(s)’ affiliation(s)
  • Abstract (maximum 200 words)
  • Presenting author
  • Corresponding author contact details
  • Audio-visual equipment required (projector etc.)

If there is more than one author, the name of the author presenting should be underlined and one author should be designated as corresponding author.  Individual presentations are normally scheduled to last between 15 and 30 minutes. If your presentation requires different timing, please indicate this in your submission file.

The deadline for submissions is 30 May 2014.  For more information, please see the 2014 World Hearing Voices Congress call for papers.

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Eilis Quinlan on ‘Mindfulness, Psychosis and Interconnectivity’, Joint Special Interest Group for Psychosis, Durham, 30 April 2014, 5.30 pm – 7 pm

Durham University and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust Joint Special Interest Group for Psychosis (JSIGP) is open to all staff working in either the Trust or University.  However, it will be of particular interest to those staff working in ‘psychosis services’ or who are involved in research within the field. A warm welcome is also extended to any service users who would like to attend. The group meets on a regular basis to discuss a wide range of topics and speakers.

The next meeting, featuring a presentation by Eilis Quinlan (Teeside University) on ‘Mindfulness, psychosis and interconnectivity’, will be held on Wednesday April 30th 2014 from 5.30 – 7PM in the Joachim Room, College of St Hild and St Bede, Durham University (30 on this map).

Eilis Quinlan is a Clinical Psychology Doctoral student at Teesside University, who has a
longstanding interest in mindfulness and more recently its applicability in mental health.

Abstract: It has been argued that those on the edges of psychosis do not have sufficient structures in place to allow them to study themselves mindfully. This talk will draw on personal experience and practice of mindfulness and its successful application to anomalous experiences such as voice hearing. It will also explore current research and ideas on what mindfulness is and its future within healthcare. Reflections will be given on the recent design and implementation of a group-based mindfulness intervention within a community psychosis team.

Places are limited for this event.  For more information and to reserve a place, please contact Victoria Patton.

Service users and their families and friends who attend meetings of the Joint Special Interest Group for Psychosis can receive an honorarium of £20 plus travelling expenses.  For more information and to obtain the relevant claim forms, please contact Valentina Short.

If you would like to receive information about future JSIGP meetings via email, please sign up to the JSIGP mailing list.

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Welcoming Paivi Eerola to Hearing the Voice

A warm welcome to Paivi Eerola, who is taking over the role of Project Assistant for the next twelve months to cover a period of maternity leave.

Paivi has just moved to Durham from Finland with her husband and two primary school children. In Finland, she worked in several consecutive projects at the Department of Music, University of Jyvaskyla.

Paivi loves singing which she does together with other “Durham Singers” (a choir). She also enjoys outdoor activities like walking and cycling.

Paivi’s working hours are Wednesday (9am to 3 pm), Thursday (9 am to 3 pm), and Friday, (9 am to 1 pm).

We are delighted to welcome Paivi to Durham University and look forward to working with her over the next year.


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New podcast: Alastair Morgan on ‘Is Psychiatry Dying? The contemporary legitimation crisis in psychiatry’

This podcast features Dr Alastair Morgan (Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, Sheffield Hallam University) on ‘Is Psychiatry Dying? The contemporary legitimation crisis in psychiatry’.  It was recorded at a meeting of the Durham University and Tyne, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust Joint Special Interest Group in Psychosis (JSIGP) on 26 March 2014.

Abstract: This talk explores the contemporary “legitimation crisis” in psychiatry. Does psychiatry know what it is for, does it have a role in the future and does it have a clear idea of its conceptual foundations ? Should we care if psychiatry withers away, and dissolves into a range of new disciplines, such as neuroscience, the science of wellbeing,  or the pragmatic management of life issues in the name of mental health recovery ? The talk will examine a proliferation of new and competing “paradigms” for the ontological status of psychiatry and critical psychiatry, and tries to map a direction for the future of psychiatry in the 21st century.

We would like to thank Alastair for a fascinating contribution to the JSIGP meeting.  The power point slides that accompanied his presentation are available here.

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Review of Psychosis and the Arts, The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (27 March 2014)

Roz Oates, a doctoral student in Durham’s Centre for Medical Humanities and Department of Geography, who is also part of the Hearing the Voice research team, writes:

On Thursday 27 March, I attended a conference on Psychosis and the Arts at Amnesty International. This event was organised by the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis. There were a number of interesting presentations. Particularly stimulating was the talk which performance artist Bobby Baker gave us about how art has been a tool for her of self-reflection in a career spanning four decades. Art has also enabled Baker to communicate to others the distress which she has experienced through having a mental illness. She presented some of the diary drawings she created daily when she attended a therapeutic day centre. One drawing presented a mask which she felt herself to wear at that time, slipping away to expose a monstrous face beneath, which she felt she hid from others. Baker recalled her relief when she was reassured by her therapist that many patients felt they concealed a monstrous self. While Baker read many first-person accounts of mental illness, she asked ‘Where are the pictures?’ She believes that ‘psychosis is an incredibly creative act’ but that there are not enough artworks depicting madness. Baker then presented photos of herself engaged in various performances, ranging from standing in a kitchen and throwing a pear against a wall to relieve the tension that she felt, to making a life-sized edible version of her family, which visitors to the display were invited to eat, to driving around the streets of London strapped to the back of a truck yelling at people in the street through a megaphone to ‘Pull Yourselves Together’.

David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy, explored in his presentation the impact of recent cultural and political change in the treatment of mental illness. He cautioned that antipsychotic medication is only useful as a short-term treatment for psychosis, and that this should not be a replacement for good care. Bell believes that it is a myth that there is community care, and in reality the mentally ill have no place to go for asylum now. He argued that mental health services need to provide containing, safe environments for disturbed patients, where there is emotional support given by staff. This environment needs to be structured, with staff providing creative activities. However, Bell noted that mental health services, by changing into Recovery Centres, are increasingly concerned with performance targets. He thinks that this ‘accelerating commodification of mental health suffering’, places unrealistic demands on the mentally ill to recover in a short time-frame, and results in both staff and patients feeling inadequate.

Bob Harris, a group analyst, gave a thought-provoking presentation of how art in mental health settings offers service-users an effective way of speaking to themselves, which can in itself be soothing. He observed how often people find it difficult to identify and express their feelings. Given that the brain is quite plastic, Harris believes that art can offer a way of repairing problems in the early years to some extent. He argued that this is particularly relevant to service-users, who often have experienced multiple and cumulative traumas, and may now be coping with the trauma of a psychiatric admission. Bell suggested how therapy is a way of seeking ordinary feelings and connections. He considers that art therapy can do a lot to help, by making symbolization possible of extreme mental states. While Bell refuses to celebrate the language or expression of psychosis, he does see it as presenting the opportunity for personal growth.

The day finished with a very interesting presentation by Meg Harris Williams, a visiting lecturer at the Tavistock, who reflected on the psychic transformations in the artist Louis Bourgeois’ sculpture of a monumental steel spider named Maman. Supported on eight slender legs, its body suspended high above the ground, the sculpture presents a nightmarish yet intriguing vision. Maman was made for the opening of Tate Modern in May 2000. Williams gave us interesting insights into how this sculpture captured the artist’s internal psychic world, as she explored her own ambivalent relationship with her mother, who was both a powerful, dominant and nurturing figure. This complicated inner world of the artist illustrated the struggles which people with psychosis often experience in managing the content of their inner worlds.

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Mental Health Research UK PhD Scholarships 2015

Mental Health Research UK (MHRUK) is pleased to announce its UK PhD Scholarships for 2015. The scholarships aim to support promising research scientists whose work will contribute to advances in mental health research.

MHRUK is currently inviting applications from UK institutions for two scholarships, beginning in September 2015:

The John Grace QC PhD Scholarship 2015 for research into hallucinations and delusions in schizophrenia
Bipolar Disorder PhD Scholarship 2015

The scholarships are open to UK Universities with a department active in research in the fields of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Applications must come from University departments, not from individual research students. It is the responsibility of the successful University to select the student. Only one application for each scholarship from each University is permitted.

All applications will be reviewed by the MHRUK scientific advisory board.  The deadline for applications is 13th June 2015.  For information about the different scholarships on offer and how to apply, please click here.

MHRUK logo2

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