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  • Hannah Zeavin, lecturer in the department of History and member of the executive committees of both the Center for New Media and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society at University of California, Berkeley, talks about her book, The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy, with Peoples & Things host, Lee Vinsel. The book tracks the history of teletherapy, which Zeavin defines as therapeutic interaction over distance, and its metamorphosis from a model of cure to one of contingent help. The book starts with letters sent through the mail and ends in our current coronavirus catastrophe. Zeavin and Vinsel also talk about the complexities and potential harms of going back fully in-person, including how it will negatively affect disabled people.
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  • For many residents of Western nations, COVID-19 was the first time they experienced the effects of an uncontrolled epidemic. This is in part due to a series of little-known regulations that have aimed to protect the global north from epidemic threats for the last two centuries, starting with International Sanitary Conferences in 1851 and culminating in the present with the International Health Regulations, which organize epidemic responses through the World Health Organization. Unlike other equity-focused global health initiatives, their mission—to establish "the maximum protections from infectious disease with the minimum effect on trade and traffic"—has remained the same since their founding. 
    In Epidemic Orientalism: Race, Capital, and the Governance of Infectious Disease (Stanford UP, 2023), Alexandre White reveals the Western capitalist interests, racism and xenophobia, and political power plays underpinning the regulatory efforts that came out of the project to manage the international spread of infectious disease. He examines how these regulations are formatted; how their framers conceive of epidemic spread; and the types of bodies and spaces it is suggested that these regulations map onto. Proposing a modified reinterpretation of Edward Said's concept of orientalism, White invites us to consider "epidemic orientalism" as a framework within which to explore the imperial and colonial roots of modern epidemic disease control.
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  • Habitual drug use in the United States is at least as old as the nation itself. Elizabeth Kelly Gray's book Habit Forming: Drug Addiction in America, 1776-1914 (Oxford UP, 2023) traces the history of unregulated drug use and dependency before 1914, when the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act limited sales of opiates and cocaine under US law. Many Americans used opiates and other drugs medically and became addicted. Some tried ‘Hasheesh Candy’, injected morphine, or visited opium dens, but neither use nor addiction was linked to crime, due to the dearth of restrictive laws. After the Civil War, American presses published extensively about domestic addiction. Later in the nineteenth century, many people used cocaine and heroin as medicine.
    As addiction became a major public health issue, commentators typically sympathized with white, middle-class drug users, while criticizing such use by poor or working-class people and people of color. When habituation was associated with middle-class morphine users, few advocated for restricted drug access. By the 1910s, as use was increasingly associated with poor young men, support for regulations increased. In outlawing users' access to habit-forming drugs at the national level, a public health problem became a larger legal and social problem, one with an enduring influence on American drug laws and their enforcement.
    Rachel Pagones is an acupuncturist, educator, and author based in Cambridge, England. She was chair of the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego before moving to the UK.
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  • Disruption resulting from the proliferation of AI is coming. The authors of the bestselling Prediction Machines describe what you can do to prepare. Banking and finance, pharmaceuticals, automotive, medical technology, retail. Artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way into many industries around the world. But the truth is, it has just begun its odyssey toward cheaper, better, and faster predictions to drive strategic business decisions--powering and accelerating business. When prediction is taken to the max, industries transform. The disruption that comes with such transformation is yet to be felt--but it is coming. How do businesses prepare? 
    In Prediction Machines, eminent economists Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb explained the simple yet game-changing economics of AI. Now, in Power and Prediction: The Disruptive Economics of Artificial Intelligence (HBR Press, 2022), they go further to reveal AI as a prediction technology directly impacting decision-making and to teach businesses how to identify disruptive opportunities and threats resulting from AI. Their exhaustive study of new developments in artificial intelligence and the past history of how technologies have disrupted industries highlights the striking phase we are now in: after witnessing the power of this new technology and before its widespread adoption--what they call "the Between Times." While there continue to be important opportunities for businesses, there are also threats of disruption. As prediction machines improve, old ways of doing things will be upended. Also, the process by which AI filters into the many systems involved in application is very uneven. That process will have winners and losers. How can businesses leverage, or protect, their positions? Filled with illuminating insights, rich examples, and practical advice, Power and Prediction is the must-read guide for any business leader or policy maker on how to make the coming AI disruptions work for you rather than against you.
    Interviewee Avi Goldfarb is the Rotman Chair in Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare and a professor of marketing at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Avi is also Chief Data Scientist at the Creative Destruction Lab and the CDL Rapid Screening Consortium, a faculty affiliate at the Vector Institute and the Schwartz-Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Avi’s research focuses on the opportunities and challenges of the digital economy.
    He has published academic articles in marketing, statistics, law, management, medicine, political science, refugee studies, physics, computing, and economics. Avi is a former Senior Editor at Marketing Science. His work on online advertising won the INFORMS Society of Marketing Science Long Term Impact Award. He testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on competition and privacy in digital advertising. His work has been referenced in White House reports, European Commission documents, the New York Times, the Economist, and elsewhere.
    Peter Lorentzen is economics professor at the University of San Francisco. He heads USF's Applied Economics Master's program, which focuses on the digital economy. His research is mainly on China's political economy.
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  • Claudia Garcia crossed the border because her toddler, Natalia, could not hear. Leaving behind everything she knew in Mexico, Claudia recounts the terror of migrating alone with her toddler and the incredible challenges she faced advocating for her daughter's health in the United States. When she arrived in Texas, Claudia discovered that being undocumented would mean more than just an immigration status—it would be a way of living, of mothering, and of being discarded by even those institutions we count on to care.
    Elizabeth Farfán-Santos spent five years with Claudia. As she listened to Claudia's experiences, she recalled her own mother's story, another life molded by migration, the US-Mexico border, and the quest for a healthy future on either side. Witnessing Claudia's struggles with doctors and teachers, we see how the education and medical systems enforce undocumented status and perpetuate disability. At one point, in the midst of advocating for her daughter, Claudia suddenly finds herself struck by debilitating pain. Claudia is lifted up by her comadres, sent to the doctor, and reminded why she must care for herself.
    A braided narrative that speaks to the power of stories for creating connection, Undocumented Motherhood: Conversations on Love, Trauma, and Border Crossing (University of Texas Press, 2022) reveals what remains undocumented in the motherhood of Mexican women who find themselves making impossible decisions and multiple sacrifices as they build a future for their families.
    Elizabeth Farfán-Santos is a medical anthropologist and the author of Black Bodies, Black Rights: The Politics of Quilombolismo in Contemporary Brazil.
    Reighan Gillam is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media (University of Illinois Press).
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  • Jaipreet Virdi talks about her book Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History with Peoples & Things host Lee Vinsel. The book details the long history of attempts to “fix” deaf people, including a great deal of quackery. Towards the end of the conversation, Virdi and Vinsel also talk about what a world beyond solutionist fantasies that disability can be “cured” would look like.
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  • Social psychiatry was a mid-twentieth-century approach to mental health that stressed the prevention of mental illness rather than its treatment. Its proponents developed environmental explanations of mental health, arguing that socioeconomic problems such as poverty, inequality, and social isolation were the underlying causes of mental illness. The influence of social psychiatry contributed to the closure of psychiatric hospitals and the emergence of community mental health care during the 1960s. By the 1980s, however, social psychiatry was in decline, having lost ground to biological psychiatry and its emphasis on genetics, neurology, and psychopharmacology.
    The First Resort: The History of Social Psychiatry in the United States (Columbia UP, 2022) is a history of the rise and fall of social psychiatry that also explores the lessons this largely forgotten movement has to offer today. Matthew Smith examines four ambitious projects that investigated the relationship between socioeconomic factors and mental illness in Chicago, New Haven, New York City, and Nova Scotia. He contends that social psychiatry waned not because of flaws in its preventive approach to mental health but rather because the economic and political crises of the 1970s and the shift to the right during the 1980s foreclosed the social changes required to create a more mentally healthy society. Smith also argues that social psychiatry provides timely insights about how progressive social policies, such as a universal basic income, can help stem rising rates of mental illness in the present day.
    Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine.
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  • Ciara Breathnach's book Ordinary Lives, Death, and Social Class: Dublin City Coroner's Court, 1876-1902 (Oxford UP, 2022) focuses on the evolution of the Dublin City Coroner's Court and on Dr Louis A. Bryne's first two years in office. Wrapping itself around the 1901 census, the study uses gender, power, and blame as analytical frameworks to examine what inquests can tell us about the impact of urban living from lifecycle and class perspectives. Coroners' inquests are a combination of eyewitness testimony, expert medico-legal language, detailed minutiae of people, places, and occupational identities pinned to a moment in time. Thus they have a simultaneous capacity to reveal histories from both above and below. Rich in geographical, socio-economic, cultural, class, and medical detail, these records collated in a liminal setting about the hour of death bear incredible witness to what has often been termed 'ordinary lives'. The subjects of Dr Byrne's court were among the poorest in Ireland and, apart from common medical causes problems linked to lower socio-economic groups, this volume covers preventable cases of workplace accidents, neglect, domestic abuse, and homicide.
    Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected] Twitter and IG: @robbyref
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  • The National Institute of Health recently announced its plan to retire the fifty remaining chimpanzees held in national research facilities and place them in sanctuaries. This significant decision comes after a lengthy process of examination and debate about the ethics of animal research. For decades, proponents of such research have argued that the discoveries and benefits for humans far outweigh the costs of the traumatic effects on the animals; but today, even the researchers themselves have come to question the practice. John P. Gluck has been one of the scientists at the forefront of the movement to end research on primates, and in Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals: A Primate Scientist's Ethical Journey (U Chicago Press, 2016) he tells a vivid, heart-rending, personal story of how he became a vocal activist for animal protection.
    Gluck begins by taking us inside the laboratory of Harry F. Harlow at the University of Wisconsin, where Gluck worked as a graduate student in the 1960s. Harlow’s primate lab became famous for his behavioral experiments in maternal deprivation and social isolation of rhesus macaques. Though trained as a behavioral scientist, Gluck finds himself unable to overlook the intense psychological and physical damage these experiments wrought on the macaques. Gluck’s sobering and moving account reveals how in this and other labs, including his own, he came to grapple with the uncomfortable justifications that many researchers were offering for their work. As his sense of conflict grows, we’re right alongside him, developing a deep empathy for the often smart and always vulnerable animals used for these experiments.
    At a time of unprecedented recognition of the intellectual cognition and emotional intelligence of animals, Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals is a powerful appeal for our respect and compassion for those creatures who have unwillingly dedicated their lives to science. Through the words of someone who has inflicted pain in the name of science and come to abhor it, it’s important to know what has led this far to progress and where further inroads in animal research ethics are needed.
    John P. Gluck is professor emeritus of psychology and a senior advisor to the president on animal research ethics and welfare at the University of New Mexico. He is also research professor of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University and coauthor of The Human Use of Animals.
    Callie Smith is a poet and doctoral candidate in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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  • Examining infanticide cases in the United States from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries, Felicity M. Turner's Proving Pregnancy: Gender, Law, and Medical Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century America (UNC Press, 2022) documents how women—Black and white, enslaved and free—gradually lost control over reproduction to male medical and legal professionals. In the first half of the nineteenth century, community-based female knowledge played a crucial role in prosecutions for infanticide: midwives, neighbors, healers, and relatives were better acquainted with an accused woman's intimate life, the circumstances of her pregnancy, and possible motives for infanticide than any man. As the century progressed, women accused of the crime were increasingly subject to the scrutiny of white male legal and medical experts educated in institutions that reinforced prevailing ideas about the inferior mental and physical capacities of women and Black people. As Reconstruction ended, the reach of the carceral state expanded, while law and medicine simultaneously privileged federal and state regulatory power over that of local institutions. These transformations placed all women's bodies at the mercy of male doctors, judges, and juries in ways they had not been before.

    Reframing knowledge of the body as property, Felicity M. Turner shows how, at the very moment when the federal government expanded formal civil and political rights to formerly enslaved people, the medical profession instituted new legal regulations across the nation that restricted access to knowledge of the female body to white men.
    Katrina Anderson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware.
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  • Professor Sarah Willen talks about her part in creating the Pandemic Journaling Project and how that has morphed into a series of visual exhibitions that emphasis how we all can work to create new histories, shape archives, and reclaim our own creativity and power.
    Learn more about the Seeing Truth exhibition at our website.
    Follow us on Twitter @WhyArguePod and on Instagram @WhyWeArguePod
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  • At thirteen, Ed Cohen was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease—a chronic, incurable condition that nearly killed him in his early twenties. At his diagnosis, his doctors told him that the best he could hope for would be periods of remission. Unfortunately, doctors never mentioned healing as a possibility. 
    In On Learning to Heal or, What Medicine Doesn't Know (Duke UP, 2022), Cohen draws on fifty years of living with Crohn’s to consider how Western medicine’s turn from an “art of healing” toward a “science of medicine” deeply affects both medical practitioners and their patients. He demonstrates that although medicine can now offer many seemingly miraculous therapies, medicine is not and has never been the only way to enhance healing. Exploring his own path to healing, he argues that learning to heal requires us to desire and value healing as a vital possibility. With this book, Cohen advocates reviving healing’s role for all those whose lives are touched by illness.
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  • In this episode, I sit down with my friend Bill McGrath, a historian of Tibetan Buddhism and medicine. He's one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on this subject, and we get deep into the weeds in an academic conversation about traditional Tibetan medicine, the category of Buddhist medicine, and Bill's perspectives on magic, religion, and science. We also reminisce about the time that Bill once used a Tibetan mantra to save the day when we ran out of gas driving home from a conference!
    Resources mentioned in the pod:

    Bill's website (ww.wmcgrath.com)

    Yoeli-Tlalim, ReOrienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters along the Silk Road (2022)

    Gerke, Taming the Poisonous: Mercury, Toxicity, and Safety in Tibetan Medical Practic (2021)

    Janet Gyatso's review of Pierce's 2014 book

    Salguero, A Global History of Buddhism and Medicine (2022)

    Gyatso, Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet (2017)

    McGrath, Knowledge and Context in Tibetan Medicine (2019)

    Saxer, Manufacturing Tibetan Medicine: The Creation of an Industry and the Moral Economy of Tibetanness (2013)

    Reassembling Tibetan Meicine (www.ratimed.net)

    Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905)


    Pierce Salguero is a transdisciplinary scholar of health humanities who is fascinated by historical and contemporary intersections between Buddhism, medicine, and crosscultural exchange. I have a Ph.D. in History of Medicine from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2010), and teach Asian history, medicine, and religion at Penn State University’s Abington College, located near Philadelphia. He is also the host (with Lan Li) of the Blue Beryl podcast. Subscribe to Blue Beryl here. 
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  • Is medical assistance in dying, or MAID letting the government off the hook from providing what they should be providing? Should we respect people's choices on harm reduction grounds, even if those choices are severely constrained by an unjust social and political context? Should we give doctors this power over the mentally ill and disabled, given the racist and ableist nature of our crumbling health care system?
    Gordon Katic debates this and more, with perspectives from either side. Professor Trudo Lemmens argues that MAID sends a disturbing message: disabled lives aren't worth living. Next, Dr. Derryk Smith (formerly of Dying with Dignity) says just the opposite: excluding certain people from this civil liberty is tantamount to stigmatization.
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  • In this episode of High Theory, Kim talks with Saronik about neurasthenia. A disease that no longer exists, neurasthenia was a nineteenth century American epidemic of energy depletion. Thinking about this diagnosis can help us understand the social functions of medical knowledge, and how that knowledge changes over time.In the episode Kim discusses two nineteenth-century medical texts: American Nervousness: It’s Causes and Consequences (New York: Putnam, 1881) by George Miller Beard, which popularized the diagnosis, and Fat and Blood: And How to Make Them (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1877), by S. Weir Mitchell, which popularized the “rest cure” treatment. She also references three scholarly texts: Tom Lutz’s American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History (Cornell UP, 1992); Carolyn Tomas de la Pena’s The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American (NYU Press, 2003); and Anson Rabinbach’s The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (UC Press, 1992).Kim Adams is one of the co-hosts of High Theory. She works as a postdoctoral fellow at the Pennsylvania State University Humanities Institute, where she is writing a book about electricity and the body in American medicine and literature. She also runs a working group on pain management as a cultural process, called Politics of the Prescription Pad. She lives in Rhode Island and has a very large dog named Tag.This week’s image is a 1907 painting titled “On the Southern Plain” by Frederic Remington. The painting shows soldiers on horseback in the American West. Remington was diagnosed with neurasthenia and treated with the “west cure” (discussed in the episode) by S. Weir Mitchell himself.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/medicine

  • Christopher M. Palmer's book Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health (Benbella Books, 2022) will forever change the way we understand and treat mental health. If you or someone you love is affected by mental illness, it might change your life. We are in the midst of a global mental health crisis, and mental illnesses are on the rise. But what causes mental illness? And why are mental health problems so hard to treat? Drawing on decades of research, Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Chris Palmer outlines a revolutionary new understanding that for the first time unites our existing knowledge about mental illness within a single framework: Mental disorders are metabolic disorders of the brain. 
    Brain Energy explains this new understanding of mental illness in detail, from symptoms and risk factors to what is happening in brain cells. Palmer also sheds light on the new treatment pathways this theory opens up—which apply to all mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, alcoholism, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, autism, and even schizophrenia. Brain Energy pairs cutting-edge science with practical advice and strategies to help people reclaim their mental health. This groundbreaking book reveals: Why classifying mental disorders as “separate” conditions is misleading The clear connections between mental illness and disorders linked to metabolism, including diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, pain disorders, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy The link between metabolism and every factor known to play a role in mental health, including genetics, inflammation, hormones, neurotransmitters, sleep, stress, and trauma The evidence that current mental health treatments, including both medications and therapies, likely work by affecting metabolism New treatments available today that readers can use to promote long-term healing Palmer puts together the pieces of the mental illness puzzle to provide answers and offer hope. Brain Energy will transform the field of mental health, and the lives of countless people around the world.

    Sine Yaganoglu trained as a neuroscientist and bioengineer (PhD, ETH Zurich). She currently works in innovation management and diagnostics.
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  • This is the story of organ transplantation, told from the organ’s point of view.
    Organs for transplantations come from two sources: living or post-mortem organ donations. These sources set different routes of movement from one body to another.
    Postmortem organ donations are mainly sourced and allocated by state agencies, while living organ donations are the result of informal relations between donor and recipient. Each route traverses different social institutions, determines discrete interaction between donor and recipient, and is charged with moral meanings that can be competing and contrasting.
    The political economy of organs for transplants is the gamut of these routes and their interconnections, and this book explains what such a political economy looks like: its features and contours, its negotiation of the roles of the state, market and the family in procuring organs for transplantations, and its ultimate moral justifications.
    Drawing on Boas’ personal experiences of waiting, searching and obtaining organs, each autobiographical section of the book sheds light on a different aspect of the political economy of organs – post-mortem donations, parental donation, and organ market – and illustrates the experience of living with the fear of rejection and the intimidation of chronic shortage.
    Boas combines a rigorous academic analysis of the political economy of organ supply for transplantation with autobiographical narratives that illuminate the complex experience of being an organ recipient.
    The author, Hagai Boas invites your comments and questions. Contact him at [email protected]
    Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected] She's on Twitter @embracingwisdom. She blogs here
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  • Performed at Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1954, the first successful kidney transplant was the culmination of years of grit, compassion, and the pursuit of excellence by a remarkable medical team--Nobel Prize-winning surgeon Joseph Murray, his boss and fellow surgeon Francis Moore, and British scientist and fellow Nobel laureate Peter Medawar. Drawing on the lives of these members of the Greatest Generation, Shelley Fraser Mickle's Borrowing Life: How Scientists, Surgeons, and a War Hero Made the First Successful Organ Transplant a Reality (Imagine, 2020) creates a compelling narrative that begins in wartime and tracks decades of the ups and downs, personal and professional, of these inspiring men and their achievements, which continue to benefit humankind in so many ways.
    Victoria Phillips is a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics in the Department of International History.
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  • For two years the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world. The physician and medical historian Jacalyn Duffin presents a global history of the virus, with a focus on Canada.
    In Covid-19: A History ( McGill-Queen's UP, 2022), Duffin describes the frightening appearance of the virus and its identification by scientists in China; subsequent outbreaks on cruise ships; the relentless spread to Europe, the Americas, Africa, and elsewhere; and the immediate attempts to confront it. COVID-19 next explores the scientific history of infections generally, and the discovery of coronaviruses in particular. Taking a broad approach, the book explains the advent of tests, treatments, and vaccines, as well as the practical politics behind interventions, including quarantines, barrier technologies, lockdowns, and social and financial supports. In concluding chapters Duffin analyzes the outcome of successive waves of COVID-19 infection around the world: the toll of human suffering, the successes and failures of control measures, vaccine rollouts, and grassroots opposition to governments' attempts to limit the spread and mitigate social and economic damages. Closing with the fraught search for the origins of COVID-19, Duffin considers the implications of an "infodemic" and provides a cautionary outlook for the future.
    Corinne Doria is a historian specializing in the social history of medicine. She is a lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen and teaches Disability Studies at Sciences-Po (Paris). Her work focuses on the history of ophthalmology and visual impairment in the West.
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  • A clear and engaging call-to-arms to Freudians everywhere and a fresh diagnosis of the major problem confronting psychoanalysis today, Austin Ratner's book The Psychoanalyst's Aversion to Proof (Ipbooks, 2018) presents exciting new ideas that could help psychoanalysis reclaim its eminent place among the mental sciences. By showing how and why Freudians have avoided proving their theories, The Psychoanalyst’s Aversion to Proof charts a new future of growth and engagement in which psychoanalysis fulfills its promise: to rescue humanity from its own irrationality.
    Karyne Messina is a licensed psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis and am on the medical staff of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She is the author of Resurgence of Populism: A Psychoanalytic Study of Projective Identification, Blame Shifting and the Corruption of Democracy (Routledge, 2022).
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