New Talk! History of Possession, June 26th

The History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, organized by the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has just announced a new talk. Craig E. Stephenson will be speaking about the seventeenth century possessions in Loudun, France and the recent reintroduction of the term possession into psychiatric discourse. The event will be held in London Wednesday, June 26th. Full event details, including the presentation abstract, follow below.

Date: Wednesday 26 June, 2013

Location: UCL Institute of the Americas, Room 105, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Speaker: Dr Craig E. Stephenson (AGAP/CPA/CAPT/IAAP)

Seminar Title: ‘The possessions at Loudun: Their significance in the history of the science of mind’

Abstract: This seminar focuses on the seventeenth-century possessions at Loudun, France and presents how the events of this famous case played out at the time and how theorizing about possession and obsession changed over almost four centuries of writing about them. For instance, in his definition of demonism for the Schweizer Lexikon (1945) C.G. Jung referred to the debate about Loudun, as did Gilles de la Tourette, Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau, and Jacques Lacan.

Eventually, psychopathology co-opted the word ‘obsession’, stripped of its religious connotation, and left the word ‘possession’ outside medical discourse. Then, in 1992, the American Psychiatric Association attempted to introduce ‘possession’ into its diagnostic manual (DSM-IV) as a mental disorder. Revisiting the history of Loudun provides a means for situating the APA’s recent interest in possession within a medical and intellectual continuum.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.