Neuroscience and the politics of mental health

Prof Nikolas Rose will focus on how modern neuroscience and attention towards brain function and mental health changes how we perceive ourselves

Volterra Lecture & debate

Place: University Library, Georg Sverdrups Hus, Auditorium 2, Molkte Moes vei 39

Time: Monday 14 May 14:15 – 15:45

The Centre for Digital Life Norway and the DigiBrain project welcomes all interested to the Volterra Lecture given by Nikolas Rose on the development of modern neuroscience, how it impacts medical practice and psychiatry, and ultimately affects our understanding of ourselves. The lecture will be followed by a panel debate.

Nikolas Rose is Professor of Sociology at King’s College London. He has been highly influential in popularizing Foucault’s thinking in social sciences.Rose’s previous/earlier studies showed how genomics transforms societies, he then inquired into the history of medical knowledge, while recently turning to the study of neurosciences. Rose is also a Co-director of the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI).

The Future of Psychiatry: Neuroscience and the politics of mental health

What kinds of creatures do we, modern human beings, take ourselves to be? In this talk, Rose draws on his research on the history and sociology of psychiatry and the neurosciences. He will argue that the current focus of scientific, medical and popular attention on the human brain amounts to a shift in our ‘relation to ourselves’. He argues that those from the social and human sciences need to attend to and engage with this shift, but that their relation to these developments should be one of ‘critical friendship’. His talk focuses on psychiatry and mental health, and he illustrates his argument with a critical analysis of five areas where such critical friendship is required:

  • The idea that disorders from anxiety to addiction are ‘brain disorders’
  • The claims made by the ‘big brain projects’ such as the Human Brain Project and the US Brain Project
  • The global rise in the use of psychiatric drugs
  • The search for ‘biomarkers’ for the diagnosis and treatment of mental distress
  • The ‘translational imperative, and the problems of moving findings from the laboratory to everyday life

He concludes with a discussion of contemporary transformations in conceptions of personhood and their implications.

Related project


Marianne Fyhn


Tags: Helse, Volterra Lectures, RRI
Published Oct. 8, 2020 1:38 PM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2020 1:58 PM