Institute for Medical Humanities Talk: Céline Kaiser, ‘Theatrical interventions in the history of psychiatry’, Durham,16 October 2019

Date: 17:00 to 18:00, Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 

Location: CA201 Caedmon Building, University of Durham

Theatrical interventions in the history of psychiatry

16th October 2019, 17:00 to 18:00, CA201 Caedmon Building, Celine Kaiser

Céline Kaiser explores the role that theatrical interventions have played in the history of psychotherapy and their potential therapeutic value. She will also explore the interplay of medical humanities research approaches with those of artistic investigations.

Theatrical interventions for the treatment of patients experiencing insanity and mental illnesses have been explored since initial attempts to develop institutionalized therapeutic spaces. The spectrum of approaches is broad: one doctor performed key scenes of delusions before unsuspecting patients; another entangled patients in phantasmagoria; a third allowed patients to act out scenarios themselves.

Spatial structures, the relations of human and non-human actors and performative practices demonstrate an enormous range in the history of (proto-) psychiatry that cannot be grasped with a single model of theatre. This lecture aims to provide insights into the therapeutic scope of theatrical forms. It will also explore the interplay of medical humanities approaches with those of artistic research.

Céline Kaiser is Professor of Media Cultural Studies and Scenic Research at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Ottersberg, Germany. Her Doctorate was on performances and rhetoric of vulnerability in Max Nordau’s work “Entartung” (“Degeneration”). She was awarded the 2007-2018 Dilthey Fellowship for her research into scenic forms of therapy since the 18th century. Her main areas of research are: history of theatre therapy, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, Medical Humanities, artistic research.

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