I do a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in the school of Divinity. My thesis explores the interrelationship between Madness and Religion. This is just the best subject in the world and all the better for working on a number of levels. In academia the people in Religious Studies and the people in Psychiatry don’t talk that much, their books are shelved miles apart in the library, they live work and breathe in different faculties geographically apart. It seems to me that Religious Studies and Psychiatry both overlap in their study of the mind and particulary their focus on extreme states of non-ordinary consciousness – shamans, spirit possession, trance, ecstasy etc. on the one hand and psychosis, dissociation, mania, hallucination etc. on the other. So seems to me there should be more of a conversation. Pinel rediagnosed Socrates in 1818 so whilst there’s a history of identifying the common ground, the tradition has been to supplant one frame of reference for another. This is less than helpful.
I’m in the fourth year of a disability discrimination case against a public sector body in Scotland. They didn’t like having someone with a mental illness on staff and they lied and cheated (under oath) in order to retrospectively justify getting rid of me. This matters little for my thesis but it does explain why I now have the opportunity to pursue other interests as employers seem disinclined to hire someone with a grade A mental illness in the midst of a complex disability discrimination case. Fortunately Universities are bigger than that.