Friday, 10 May 2013

LSE panel discussion on mental illness

I took part in a panel discussion at the LSE this week under their Consilience series. Matthew Broome and Bonnie Evans were the other panel members, it was chaired by Kristina Musholt, and organised by Juliana Cardinale. In a packed - and very swish - lecture theatre, I found the questions from the audience varied and helpful and, despite the contested nature of mental healthcare, surprisingly good natured. But I regretted afterwards that we failed to provide a really clear outline of the logical geography of the philosophy of mental illness: mainly my fault, I could have done so but chose instead to give an overview of activity in philosophy and psychiatry. (There is a podcast of the event available here.) But one other coincidental aspect of the evening struck me.

Between 1991-3, I worked at the LSE as a university administrator before going round the world for a year. It was an emotionally charged period in that I had to learn a lot quickly about non-academic work in which I was hugely helped by a fine boss (Michael Arthur); there was a surprising degree of pressure elsewhere in the administration (much shouting on other floors); and I had simultaneously to rewrite my PhD from scratch with a new supervisor. Memories from those two years often come back to me. And hence, I assumed that if I were to walk into the building in which I used to work and where I would arrive with some trepidation every morning that memories would flood back, that I would have an affective response. Weirdly, I tried the experiment and nothing happened. I cannot project myself back into that life any more. All the facts are the same - I remember just as much - but the affective colouring has gone. Odd to have no first person authority in advance over this.