Cultures of Care and Abandonment Workshop | 28 & 29 April 2022

Health, Ethics and Narrative Ireland (HEaNI) in collaboration with MindReading are delighted to present a workshop with Professor Neil Vickers (KCL) on 28th and 29th April at UCD.
This workshop is funded by UCD Seed Funding. 
 
HEaNI (Health, Ethics and Narrative Ireland) is a new network at UCD  interested in interdisciplinary work around the role of narrative in clinical practice and related ethical and cultural questions, led by Dr Elizabeth Barrett (UCD School of Medicine), Dr Clare Hayes-Brady (UCD School of English, Drama and Film) and Dr Danielle Petherbridge (UCD School of Philosophy), and we are delighted to talk to  anyone who may be interested in joining the network. MindReading is an ongoing project in collaboration with RCPI that brings together clinicians, humanities researchers and patient advocacy groups to discuss the boundaries and exchanges between medicine and culture. 
 
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
The workshop, on Cultures of Care and Abandonment, will take place over two afternoons, with a two-hour session on each of the two topics running from 2pm-4pm on the 28th and 29th April in C218 in the Newman Building. The workshop is structured as a collaborative space to develop ideas around cultures and theories of care and abandonment, and we hope that any colleagues with interests in medical humanities, philosophies of care and intersubjectivity will attend. In particular, we strongly encourage our many PhD and postdoctoral researchers with interests in this area to come along. Tea and coffee will be provided. The session on Friday 29th April will be followed by a wine reception at 5pm to formally launch the Health Ethics and Narrative Ireland group at UCD. 
 
Professor Vickers is Professor of English Literature and the Health Humanities at King’s College London, where he is also co-director of the Centre for the Humanities and Health. We are delighted to welcome him to UCD. There is more detailed information on the workshop below. 
 
Places are free but limited, so please contact Clare.hayes-brady@ucd.ie by the 15th April, if you would like to attend.
 
HEaNI and MINDREADING
HEaNI (Health, Ethics and Narrative Ireland) is a new network at UCD  interested in interdisciplinary work around the role of narrative in clinical practice and related ethical and cultural questions, led by Dr Elizabeth Barrett (UCD School of Medicine), Dr Clare Hayes-Brady (UCD School of English, Drama and Film) and Dr Danielle Petherbridge (UCD School of Philosophy), and we are delighted to talk to  anyone who may be interested in joining the network. MindReading is an ongoing project in collaboration with RCPI that brings together clinicians, humanities researchers and patient advocacy groups to discuss the boundaries and exchanges between medicine and culture. 
 
 
FURTHER DETAILS
 
Care and Abandonment - UCD, 28th and 29th April 
 
The intersubjective precursors of care
The first workshop would be on the intersubjective precursors of care. Most currently influential definitions of care take overt caring actions as their starting point (see e.g. Fisher’s and Tronto’s ‘everything we do to maintain, continue, and repair our world’). The list of caring actions is potentially infinite. Tronto breaks care down into four analytic phases: caring about (discerning a need in another), caring for (accepting responsibility to meet that need), caregiving (doing what you can to meet it practically) and monitoring how the care you gave was received. I will propose this sequence usually unfolds when a caregiver has already been primed to act caringly. In contrast to this approach, I want to focus as far as possible on a relatively small number of intersubjective precursors of caring actions. These are for the most part pre-reflective. I will argue further that in general the logic of care (to use Annemarie Mol’s phrase) follows the logic of intersubjective contact; that is, it is dependent on certainly evolutionarily-specified powerful elaborations of coordinated movement, arousal management and meaning-making. Together these combine to produce a momentum towards play, where play is understood as the pleasurable and creative use of the symbolic resources present in a relational context. Care often involves a formidable amount of subject-object confusion, because it is in the nature of strong intersubjective contact to blur the boundaries of each individual’s experience. 
 
The pariah syndrome
The title of this workshop is taken from a famous paper by David and Pauline Rabin in which they described their isolation following David's diagnosis of MND. 'Patients and their families,' they wrote, 'become pariahs, cast off by many in society who are unable to face them. Thus, they contend not only with their illness but also with the response it evokes.' Pariahdom is the most extreme expression of social isolation that many people with major illnesses experience. 
This workshop will consider why abandonment is not just a possibility in WEIRD societies, but a strong probability. My discussion will unfold in three parts. In the first, I will draw attention to the biological strengths that groups of healthy humans can offer one another in the face of adversity. One of the most important of these is the building up of shared autonomic resilience which enables the individual to harness the physiological power of the group. I will argue that WEIRD societies are set up in such a way that it is harder for the individual to draw upon these strengths. I will develop this theme by considering the ways in which healthy individuals help one another to cope with a strangeness that is intrinsic to ordinary embodiment and survey some of the ways in which illness might obstruct those processes. These help to explain some of the incomprehension that can take root very suddenly once illness enters the picture in relationships that were previously stable. Finally, drawing on Beck, Bauman and Sennett I turn to the related question of the impact of this phase of modernity on how most people think about and indeed live out our notions of health, the body and death. 
 
 
Dr Clare Hayes-Brady 
Associate Professor, American Literature
Director of Graduate Studies (Taught)
Co-Coordinator, MA in Literature & Culture
School of English, Drama and Film
University College Dublin