The next seminar in Durham University’s School of Medicine, Pharmacy & Health seminar series, featuring Dr Angela Woods (Co-Director, Hearing the Voice) on ‘What is it like to hear voices? Evidence and experience in interdisciplinary perspectives’, will take place on Tuesday 13 May 2014 in A11, Holliday Building, Durham University (Stockton Campus) at 1 pm (12.30 pm lunch).

Abstract: Hearing the Voice is an ambitious interdisciplinary study of voice-hearing, or auditory verbal hallucinations, led by researchers at Durham University and funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in Medical Humanities. Our core research team includes academics from cognitive neuroscience, English literature, history, medical humanities, philosophy, psychology and theology, working closely with voice-hearers, clinicians, artists and arts-in-health practitioners. One of the project’s central aims is to develop a fuller description than has previously been possible of these enigmatic and sometimes acutely distressing experiences.

This paper begins by introducing the Hearing the Voice project – and the key questions, collaborations and tensions animating our research – as helping to define a cutting edge in medical humanities research. I will go on to outline the challenges and, as I see them, benefits of pursuing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human experience, before presenting preliminary data from a qualitative study conducted in collaboration with the Lived Experience Research Network. “What is it like to hear voices?” asked people to reflect upon aspects of their experience – including the embodied presence and interpersonal agency of voices, and their relationship to thoughts and external speech – which are rarely the focus of in-depth exploration in mainstream psychological or hallucinations research. Data from 158 respondents offer rich insights into the phenomenology of voice-hearing, but as I will explain their analysis within a medical humanities research context is far from straightforward.

Biography: Angela Woods joined the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health in 2010 as a Lecturer in Medical Humanities and has been Co-Director of the Hearing the Voice project since 2011. Her first book, The Sublime Object of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory, was published with Oxford University Press, and her current research focuses on the interplay between theoretical and subjective accounts of psychotic experience; new modes of ‘doing interdisciplinarity’; narrative identity; and the role of narrative in the medical humanities. Angela is the founding editor of Centre for Medical Humanities blog, Associate Editor of the BMJ Medical Humanities Journal, and joint General Editor of The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities.

Venue and Time: The seminar will take place in A11. An informal lunch will be served from 12.30, followed by the seminar itself at 13.00.

If you would like to attend this seminar, please RSVP to Rachel Pears before Friday 09th May 2014 for catering purposes.

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