Meanings of Empathy for a Politics of Care

Erica Cao // It wasn’t until the 1900s that psychologist Edward Titchener translated the German word, “einfühlung,” from a concept of aesthetics into the English word, “empathy,” of human understanding that we know today. The relatively recent birth of the word seems to be gaining ever more use in popular discourse. In the wake of…

T in the Time of Coronavirus

Diana Rose Newby // Why has COVID-19 killed more men than women? As the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues its global spread, infection patterns and fatality rates have prompted this question both among medical experts and in the popular media. As of late April, data confirmed this disparity in multiple regions of the world: in China,…

To be or not to be (sad)?: Engaging with negative emotions

Bríd Phillips // Recently I came across research on Shakespeare and positive emotions which made the point that the field of the History of Emotions has focused almost exclusively on the so-called negative emotions represented by writers in the early modern period. This statement gave me pause. I examined the work I had myself attended…

Technology, Paranoia, and the Therapeutic Encounter

“This isn’t therapy, what we’ve done. We’ve erased things.” — Heidi Bergman, Homecoming (TV version).  Roanne Kantor and Anna Mukamal // This fall I had the pleasure of teaching a course on intersections between disability and technology. In putting together the syllabus, I quickly noticed that one of the most potent sites for this question…

The Elusive Nature of Dreams: Shifting Research Trends

Amala Poli // Dreams continue to be sources of mystery and fascination, eluding universal explanations, blurring reality and fiction and mixing the two in curious ways. We are closer now than we have ever been before to having comprehensive explanations of all sleep-related phenomena, ontological and phenomenological accounts that are backed by neuroscientific sleep research….

A Paradisaical Phantom Pain

Yuki Bailey // “I know there were some photos lost in the fire, but I’m just glad my mom is ok,” said my uncle, after informing me that my grandmother’s house in Paradise, California had burned down. “Yeah, that’s the most important thing,” I responded. After hanging up the phone, I started to cry, as…

Desire I: Desire and the Formulation of the Bourgeois Subject

Chia Yu Lien// In this and the following posts, I would like to talk about the concept of desire—more specifically, the desire of the bourgeois subject, or in Lauren Berlant’s words, “capitalist subject” (2007, 779). I am not talking about desire as a primary physiological drive, such as the desire to breathe or to eat,…

‘Joker’: A Complex Representation of Mental Illness?

Amala Poli // Joker (2019), a film directed by Todd Phillips, and co-produced by Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, represents mental illness in a way that is neither easily acceptable or dismissible. Some critics have viewed the film as a troubling representation of mental illness due to its construction of the troubled…

Black Mirror and the Therapies of Distraction

Bojan Srbinovski // “San Junipero,” the fourth episode of the third season of the techno-dystopian television series Black Mirror, opens with a series of distractions. It is the year 1987, and Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” is playing on the radio. Yorkie, one of the episode’s protagonists, walks out onto the street…