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Is There a History of the Nocebo Effect? Global Reflections

Talk by Dr Rob Boddice

Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Research Council Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences, Tampere University, Finland.

IMH (Confluence Building) & Online

For further information and registration:

https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/medical-humanities/events/imh-seminar-2802-rob-boddice/

Dr Rob Boddice puts the case for a history of the nocebo effect and the power of situated belief to cause real and lasting harm.

Collective trauma has had many names. Mass psychogenic illness, mass sociogenic illness, reactive psychological disaster syndrome, mass hysteria and choreomania are some of them. Outbreaks are documented from ancient times to the present, all around the world, from medieval tarantism and compulsive dancing to eighteenth-century convulsionnaires; from hysterical tetanus outbreaks in the nineteenth century to sudden onset collective Tourettes in the twenty-first. Indicative research suggests that some forms of long-Covid also belong in this category.

What do these collective illnesses have in common? How can historians make sense of the real psychological and bodily experiences of the collectively afflicted in the absence of pathological causes, normatively conceived? In this seminar, Dr Rob Boddice puts the case for a history of the nocebo effect and the power of situated belief to cause real and lasting harm. Based on interdisciplinary medical and neuroscientific research, this is an exploratory venture into the historicity of biocultural plasticity and the dynamics of human experience.

The event is free but registrations are essential. All are welcome!

This seminar is hosted by The Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University and is delivered as part of the 2023-24 IMH Hidden Experience Seminar Series, which centres on hidden experiences of health and illness.