Lecture with

Dr. Dr. h.c. Siri Hustvedt


The Writing Self and the Psychiatric Patient

June 18, 2016; 6 am (18 Uhr c.t.)
Alte Mensa, Atrium Maximum
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Drawing from my experiences as a volunteer writing teacher for psychiatric patients on the locked wards of the Payne Whitney Clinic in New York City, I ask how in an age of “biological psychiatry,” writing might be framed as a therapeutic activity for people diagnosed with mental illness. I argue that many of the current models in psychiatry are too rigid and/or confused to adequately address the subtle and beneficial effects writing has for individual patients. The objectification of inner thoughts, stories, and emotions in texts can help organize a person’s view of his or her subjectivity in ways that enhance reflection.

About Siri Hustvedt:
She is one of the most significant contemporary American writers. She received her PhD in English from Columbia University with a dissertation on Charles Dickens. With a body of work comprising 7 internationally received novels and 4 collections of essays, she has opened new ways of connecting fiction and literary criticism. In her work, she draws on philosophical, psychoanalytical, neuroscientific and gender theories in order to establish a reciprocal subjectivity connecting body and mind; a notion that also informs her work as a lecturer of psychiatry at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College. Siri Hustvedt is an associate member of the DFG-funded research training group “Life Sciences, Life Writing: Experiences at the Boundaries of Human Life between Biomedical Explanation and Lived Experience” (GRK 2015/1), at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz.

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