| Associate Professor, Program Coordinator|
230 Founders College
B.A., Antioch College
M.A, Ph D, University of Chicago
medical anthropology, mental illness, therapeutic movements, psychoanalysis, addictions
My research grows out of my background in philosophy, social theory, psychoanalysis and medical anthropology. Throughout my academic career I’ve been fascinated by cultural movements that arise in connection with specific forms of illness. I’ve been especially interested in self-help movements such as Alcoholics Anonymous, which seem to combine aspects of both religion and psychotherapy.
I’ve also studied support groups for people undergoing treatment for controversial illnesses like multiple personality disorder and candidiasis. Here I’ve been really struck by the value of participant observation in developing an “insider” perspective on these conditions. My work has also taken up cultural aspects of trauma, memory, dissociation and the addictions.
Recently I have also begun to study several groups championing sharply different views about the nature, causes and proper treatment of autism. My focus has been especially on the “Neurodiversity Movement,” created by high-functioning autistics who believe their condition is not a disease or disability, but just a different way of being human.
In addition to publishing a variety of articles and book chapters on these topics, I have co-edited two books (with Michael Lambek): Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory (Routledge, 1995) and Illness and Irony: On the Ambiguity of Suffering in Culture (Berghahn, 2004).
“On the Pragmatics of Empathy in the Neurodiversity Movement” in M. Lambek ed., Culture, Language and the Ethics of Everyday Life (forthcoming)
“Dis-Ordered Communities: How Madness Means” Poiesis:
Journal of Expressive Arts and Communication, 7,1, 2005
Illness and Irony: On the Ambiguity of Suffering in Culture (co-edited with Michael Lambek).
New York: Berghahn, 2004
“Illness as Irony in Psychoanalysis.” Social Analysis 47, 2, 2004
“The Other Inside: Memory as Metaphor in Psychoanalysis.” In S. Radstone and K. Hodgkin, eds., Regimes of Memory. London: Routledge, 2003
“Dissociative Mimesis: Multiple Personality as Cultural Commentary.”
Poesis: Journal of Expressive Arts and Communication, 1, 1, 1999.
Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory (co-edited with Michael Lambek).
New York: Routledge, 1996