Dis-easing Pathologies: When Discourse Pathologizes Lived Experience

Event date: Monday, November 14, 2016, at 5:30 PM
Location: VC206, Old Victoria College Building

Presented by the Literature and Critical Theory Program:

Dis-easing Pathologies

In History of Madness Michel Foucault proposes that our understanding of madness as a disease is a cultural construct that affects the experience of those labeled with the name-tag ‘mad’. In the past, pregnancy was considered as a disability, whereas today, many see the experience as empowering (consider Ali Wong: Baby Cobra Stand Up show as a point of reference). Autism presents us with a spectrum of (dis)ability and Alzheimer’s is still considered to be the tragedy of old age. All these are true for Western cultural paradigms that are being reinforced through scientific, medical, fictional and pop-media discourses. This round table wishes to follow Foucault’s steps (directly and indirectly) and re-evaluate our understanding of experiences that are classified as illnesses not merely as a global epidemic or tragedies but also as a cultural phenomenon.

The roundtable will consider mental illness, contagious diseases and disability as its focal points and will reassess philosophical, cultural, judicial and legal, sociological and psychological concepts that become excessively prevalent in discourses of illness. Among these concepts we will consider: time, space, consent, identity, memory, history, tragedy/ comedy, illness, disability, cure, care, science, prognosis as fiction, reality, possessions, value, pathology etc. 

Roundtable topics and panelists:

“Dementia: the lived experience” by Phyllis Fehr (Ontario Dementia Advisory Group Advocate) 

“Dialogical diagramatics: Rethinking memory and trauma in critical theory” by Matthew DaMota (Independent Scholar) and Benjamin Bandosz (Mad Pride Toronto)

“Graphic representations of Chronic Pain” by Jane Zhao (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute) 

About the panelists: 

The speakers at the roundtable are active members of a creative cross-disciplinary research group entitled “De-pathologizing Alzheimer’s Disease.”  The goal is to unpack the constructedness of Alzheimer’s as a disaster and join the ongoing conversation of culture change with regards to dementia care.

The working group aims to provide an intellectually stimulating, productive, radical, thought-provoking and creative platform for its participants to explore Alzheimer’s and its discontents. This group actively engages in creative and practical projects that will benefit dementia care on a global scale.

The innovative creative research group "De-pathologizing Alzheimer's Disease" launched its activity in Fall of 2016 and it is kindly supported by AGE-WELL and the following academic units at the University of Toronto: Centre for Comparative Literature, Munk School of Global Affairs, Comparative Program on Health and Society, Literature and Critical Theory Program, Philosophy Department, Northrop Frye Centre and Grad Minds.

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