Author Archives: Rachel Cooper

Philosophy of Psychiatry – work in progress day – 7 June 2019

This workshop is free to attend, but please register by emailing

Cavendish Colloquium , Lancaster University.

Draft Schedule

11-11.30 Moujan Mirdamadi – Do idioms of distress have explanatory power?

11.30-12 Sam Fellowes – Psychiatric symptoms, like psychiatric diagnoses, are constructed: methodological issues and epistemic consequences.

12-12.30 Alistair Stewart – Loose talk about psychosis.

12.30-1 Dieneke Hubbeling – What kind of information needs to be given?

 1-2 Lunch – own arrangements

2-2.30 Hane Maung – Pluralism and incommensurability in suicide research.

2.30-3 Alex James Miller Tate – What is palliative psychiatry (and what could it be)

3-3.30 Rachel Cooper – The concept of mental disorder revisited.



Podcasts from Philosophy and Psychopathy day


Audio recordings Philosophy and Psychopathy – 21st Sept 2018, Storey Institute, Lancaster

Thomas Schramme (Liverpool) ‘What can we learn from cases of psychopathy for a theory of moral agency?’


Gloria Ayob (UCLAN) ‘Psychopathy as a disorder of valuing: Revisiting Cleckley’s psychopaths’


Rachel Cooper (Lancaster) ‘Problems with cross-cultural conceptions of psychopathy’

Philosophy and Psychopathy

Philosophy and Psychopathy – 21st Sept 2018, Storey Institute, Lancaster
This workshop is free to attend. Please email Rachel Cooper, to register
11-12 Thomas Schramme (Liverpool) ‘What can we learn from cases of psychopathy for a theory of moral agency?’
12-1 Somogy Varga (Memphis) ‘Psychopathy and personal autonomy’
1-2.30 Lunch – own arrangements
2.30-3.30 Gloria Ayob (UCLAN) ‘Psychopathy as a disorder of valuing: Revisiting Cleckley’s psychopaths’
3.30-4.30 Rachel Cooper (Lancaster) ‘Problems with cross-cultural conceptions of psychopathy
4.30-5 Final discussion
Sponsored by PPR, Lancaster University

Philosophy of psychiatry – work in progress day – 31st May

This workshop is free to attend, but please register by emailing

County Main Seminar Room 5 , Lancaster University.

There’s a lot of building work on campus at the moment. I’ll email attendees shortly before the workshop to confirm the room and how to get to it!

Campus map
Details of how to travel to campus

11-11.30 Hane Maung (Manchester) – Is suicide a psychiatric problem?
11.30-12 Phoebe Friesen (Oxford) – Distancing medically assisted dying and suicide: Is it justified?
12-12.30 Edmund O’Toole (National University of Ireland, Galway) – Hermeneutics, the biopsychosocial approach & prototype analysis.
12.30-1 Moujan Mirdamadi (Lancaster) Making sense of cultural variation in experiences of depression
1-2 Lunch
2-2.30 Richard Hassall (Sheffield) – What does a psychiatric diagnosis mean for those who are given a diagnosis?
2.30-3 Sam Fellowes (Lancaster) – Using perspectivism to counter discontinuity arguments over psychiatric diagnosis
3-3.30 George Turner (Lancaster) Self-esteem and mental illness – the historical connection
3.30-3.45 break
3.45-4.15Alexander Miller Tate (Birmingham) Explaining agential pathology in clinical depression.
4.15-4.45 Rachel Cooper (Lancaster) – Puzzles in psychiatric classification

To be followed by beer and food in town.

Military Lives and Transformative Experiences: Roundtable – Wed 9 May 2018

Military Lives and Transformative Experiences is an interdisciplinary project run by Liz Brewester (Faculty of Health and Medicine) and Sam Clark (Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Religion). It is supported by the MOD’s Aged Veterans Fund via the Royal British Legion. The project employs a research assistant, Brigit McWade. We use a combination of qualitative interviews, workshops, and philosophical argument to investigate: (1) the therapeutic benefits of autobiographical storytelling for military veterans; and (2) the applicability of the philosophies of autobiography and of well-being to veterans’ lives. We aim both at understanding the nature of martial lives in time, and at interventions to improve the lives of veterans. In this round table, Liz, Sam, and Brigit present and offer for discussion some of our work and thinking so far.

Lancaster University, Fylde Lecture Theatre 3, 4-5.30pm

Wellcome Research Fellowship for Sam Fellowes

Sam Fellowes has been awarded a Research Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust. Sam will be based in the department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster throughout his three year project.

Sam’s project aims to develop a neo-Kantian framework for psychiatry: Empirical research has not been able to find specific causes for many mental disorders. Instead massive causal heterogeneity has been uncovered within the domain of psychiatry. This has led to a crisis of confidence concerning psychiatric diagnoses. Sam will develop a new account of what makes a psychiatric diagnosis legitimate, which draws on an approach in the philosophy of science called ‘neo-Kantianism’. This approach emphasises the role played by theories and values when scientists model the world. On this new approach a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis does not need to have a specific underlying cause, and so current concerns regarding the validity of psychiatric diagnoses can be alleviated. Sam will use the history of autism to look at alternative theories and values to assess if psychiatry could improve the theories and values it employs.

Medical Humanities Workshop – Lancaster – 19th April 2018

North West Medical Humanities PG Network Interdisciplinary Workshop

Organized by Erin Bramwell and Natalie Mullen

Thu 19 April 2018

09:30 – 18:00

Lancaster University,  FASS Building, A010 Meeting Room 3

Register via Eventbrite:


This is a one-day workshop at Lancaster University supported by the ESRC NWDTC that focuses on the value of alternative methodologies in the medical humanities. Although our primary focus is North West based PGRs, we are also pleased to welcome ECRs and participants from other institutions working in the medical humanities. Papers will cover a range of topics within the medical humanities, focussing on how researchers use interdisiplinary methods to approach critical questions in the area. Speakers come from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including English, History, Sociology, Social Policy and Law. This is the inaugral event of the North West Medical Humanities Postgraduate Network.

Workshop Programme

9.30 Registration

10.00 Welcome Address

10.10 Keynote Address:

‘Germs on Film: Historic Imagery and Hand Hygiene’

Dr James Stark, Associate Professor of Medical Humanities at Leeds University

11.15 Coffee break

11.30 Panel One: Therapeutic Spaces

Chaired by Erin Bramwell, Lancaster University

Matilda Blackwell, University of Birmingham, ‘Queering the Water-Cure: Fluid Sexualities in the Therapeutic Bathroom Spaces of Emily Holmes Coleman, Antonia White and Katherine Mansfield’

Felix Goodbody, University of Liverpool, ‘‘Small, noisy, and awkwardly shaped.’ The 1942 Hospital Survey and early hopes for a National Health Service’

Marie Allitt, University of York, ‘Palimpsestic Aesthetics in First World War Medical Spaces’

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Panel Two: Personal Stories and Autobiographies

Chair TBC

Eleni Theodoropoulou, University of Liverpool, ‘The socio-cultural associations of drug use and recovery: empirical data from Athens’

Charlotte Orr, University of Glasgow, ‘‘What Science Has Done to Me’: Sir Ronald Ross’s Battle for Scientific Priority in Memoirs: with a full account of the great malaria problem and its solution’

Christine Stadler, Chemnitz University of Technology, ‘Je sont des autres – AIDS and the fragmented self in Hervé Guibert’s Le Paradis

15.30 Coffee Break

16.00 Panel Three: Power, Medical Authority, and Patient Agency

Chaired by Natalie Mullen, Lancaster University

Louise Tomkow, University of Manchester, ‘How does forced migration affect health in later life?’

Botsa Katara, Durham University, ‘The Prosthetic Body: Abled, Disabled or Posthuman?’

Beata Gubacsi, University of Liverpool, ‘Stigmatisation and Posthuman Care in Octavia Butler’s ‘The Evening and the Morning and the Night’’.

17.30 Closing Address

17.45 Conference Close

Philosophy Debates in Mental Health – 18th April 2018

Royal Institute of Philosophy sponsored seminar at Accrington & Rossendale College

18 April 2018, 11am – 1pm

Accrington & Rossendale College

Dr Rachel Cooper and Dr Sam Fellowes are based at Lancaster University within the Department for Politics, Philosophy and Religion. Through a series of discussions they will aim to explore the conceptual problems around psychiatric classification and diagnosis.

Dr Cooper: ‘Mental disorder outside the head’

Dr Sam Fellowes: ‘Lessons for today from the history of autism’

The audience will be encouraged to step  outside of the usual assumptions about mental health in an effort to re-frame understanding and improve practice.

The seminar discussions are free to attend.

Places are limited and so it is essential to register if you would like to attend.

To book a place please email or for more information

contact 01254 354047/354117