Online meeting of the Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group: The Search for Meaning in Neuropsychiatry

Friday 24 April 2020, 10:30 to 12:00.

Zoom Meeting ID: 894 517 1679

In the next session of the Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group we will be joined by Dr Norman Poole, and will be discussing his paper ‘The Search for Meaning in Neuropsychiatry’.

Dr Poole is Consultant Psychiatrist at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, and editor of the BJPsych Bulletin.

Summary of the paper: The meaning of psychiatric symptoms has long been contested. Neuropsychiatric symptoms are almost always understood to be meaningless signs of underlying cerebral disease. Philosophical theories of meaning likewise often invoke mental disorder as the boundary for where the theory fails to hold. The author interviewed three patients and their carers in depth on their understanding of neuropsychiatric symptoms with reference to themes that arise within philosophical theories of meaning from the tradition of analytic philosophy (Davidson, Dennett, Wittgenstein). Although meaning is shown to falter it does not fail completely, with implications for the clinical approach to patients and their carers.

The readings for each session are held in a shared Dropbox folder. If you need access, email

Everyone is welcome at the reading group. There is no need to book.

The Birkbeck Medical Humanities Reading Group aims to create a space in which academics, clinicians and students can come together to explore key readings, ideas and materials in the field of medical humanities. Our endeavour is to find ways of talking across the different disciplines of the humanities and medicine, and we welcome participation from colleagues and students interested and engaged in these areas. For details of previous sessions, please click here.


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