Learn how self and social identity are shaped within medical practices at Neurological Imaginaries seminar

Image of the brain
Cross section Image of the brain

The Neurological Imaginaries Seminar Series welcomes Dr. Suze Berkhout for its third installment in the series, to discuss her research on how dimensions of self and social identity are shaped within medical and psychiatric practices, and the implications of this for biomedical knowledge. Berkhout is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and a clinician-investigator and practicing psychiatrist within the University Health Network.

Suze Berkhout

The event takes place on Friday, Jan. 17 from 12 to 2 p.m. in 305 York Lanes. This event includes a short paper presentation titled “Multiplicity and Space for the Unspeakable: Exploring the Limits of Narrative in a Study of First Episode Psychosis” followed by a live interview and a Q-and-A period. Light refreshments will be provided, and all are welcome.

In her paper, Berkhout examines the notion that a biomedical worldview produces an “epistemological narrowing” (Squier, 2007) that is by now commonplace within the health humanities. This concern of narrowing is ultimately both epistemic and ontological, and motivates what has been called a narrative turn in qualitative health research. But what if a different kind of narrowing likewise occurs within critical methodologies that rely upon verbal speech communication, narrative research included?

During this event she will discuss the limits of narrativity in understanding the lived experience of psychosis. Through findings from a three-year study contrasting historical, biological, and experiential narratives of first episode psychosis, this paper draws on critical disability studies and feminist philosophy of science to discuss project themes of ambivalence, disorientation, perplexity and confusion in the experience of psychosis – themes and issues that relate closely to those of traumatic brain injury.

Berkhout will also touch on findings from a collaborative visual arts-based knowledge translation project developed in response to these themes. When experiences of psychosis were unspeakable, they overwhelmed the ability to order, describe or categorize them. In contrast, these experiences were reflected with greater depth and nuance through multimedia and visual art works created within a novel group setting. Multisensory modes of study spoke to partial truths, truths in the telling, and multiplicity in realities – lived experiences that were “uncontainable by words.”

The Neurological Imaginaries seminar series works to bring neuroscientists, anthropologists and artists together in an interdisciplinary conversation to discuss epistemological tensions within traumatic brain injury care. These conversations will explore how sensorial and arts-based methodologies might open up possibilities for understanding often imperceptible inner transformations that escape both biomedical technologies and language.

For more information, contact Jordan Hodgins at hodginsj@yorku.ca.