Compelling Associations: Kay Redfield Jamison on the Artistic Temperament in Manic-Depressive Illness

Amala Poli // One of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive illness in the world [1], Kay Redfield Jamison in Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, attempts to address a compelling association between artistic and manic-depressive temperaments through a literary, biographical, and scientific argument (5). Since the late eighteenth century, the glamorization of certain types…

Existential Research Notes, Or Pregnancy in the News

Livia Arndal Woods // For the better part of the past decade, my scholarship has focused on representations of pregnancy in the Victorian novel. This focus has often resonated with 21st century pregnancy narratives, and I’ve written about that. I’ve written less about the ways in which my scholarship has resonated with my lived experience…

Authentic Empathy & Therapeutic Alliances (Part 2)

In a previous Synapsis post, I introduced the notion of the Therapeutic Alliance (TA) – an active ingredient of psychopathology and psychotherapy. I discussed the antecedence of therapeutic relationships formed between victim service providers (VSPs) and male victims of sexual assault (e.g. rape, molestation, sodomy, etc.). My interest? Their therapeutic and extra-therapeutic rehabilitation and healing, and how this process (a continuum of healing, more or less) is impacted by social stigma. Male victims infrequently seek care, making further scholarship in this domain problematical, but welcoming.

Authentic Empathy & Therapeutic Alliances (Part 1)

Chuka Nestor Emezue // “Laying the pus-covered pad on the desk in front of him, he gave up his secret. During his escape from the civil war in neighbouring Congo, he had been separated from his wife and taken by rebels. His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years. And…

Byron’s Pharmacopoeia

Lesley Thulin // In his 17-canto opus Don Juan (1819-24), Lord Byron adapts the epic form to modernity. The Horatian epigraph, “Difficile est proprie communia dicere,” announces that he will speak of common things, presaging the poem’s engagement with the ordinary. Byron takes up family conflict, courtship, and ritualized reading, for instance, and rejects the…

Mothers, Memoir, and Medicine

Livia Arndal Woods // It’s Mother’s Day, holiday of breakfast-in-bed and/or reflection on the ways our society fails families. This Mother’s Day, I want to add a thought about how memoirs of motherhood cultivate an insistent thread of anxiety about medicine.

Illness as Muse and the Poet-Physician: Rafael Campo’s Comfort Measures Only

Travis Chi Wing Lau // Rafael Campo. Comfort Measures Only: New & Selected Poems, 1994-2016. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018. “Illness is a problem for the human imagination only insomuch as we might seek dispassionately scientific methods to cure it while we avoid the inevitably destructive pressures it exerts on our fragile psyches.” – Rafael…

Recording Women’s Contributions to the History of Victorian Health and Wellness

Jessica Kirwan // I recently interviewed Dr. Lesa Scholl, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Victorian Women Writers, which is soon to be published by Palgrave Macmillan for their Major Reference Works portfolio. Dr. Scholl is Head of Kathleen Lumley College at the University of Adelaide in Australia. Readers of Synapsis will be interested to know…

The Classic, or Institutionalization part II

Roanne Kantor // What happens when different kinds of institutions meet? When I asked that question this winter, the answer focused on the unevenness between various types of things that get theorized very abstractly as “institutions.” Can there be any use in exploring “institutionalization” and “de-institutionalization” in both medical and educational contexts? Within this larger…