Tag: war

Bioethics Blogs

Orkideh Behrouzan’s Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran by Dina Omar

Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran

Orkideh Behrouzan

Stanford University Press, 2016, 328 pages

 

Orkideh Behrouzan’s first ethnographic endeavor, Prozak Diaries (2016), explores a question that has provoked much interest in the Middle East in recent years: what’s with all the talk about depression nowadays? The influence of Western clinical psychiatry seems to traverse language: the Farsi word afsordegi, for example, is often substituted by ‘depreshen.’ Prozak Dairies is a multifaceted exploration of the pervasiveness of depreshen talk, or the use of psychiatric language more generally, in Iranian society. The main thrust of Prozak Diaries considers the extent to which modern clinical psychiatric language has become vernacular—gradually normalized within Iranian popular culture and public discourse and co-constitutive with trends in psychiatric treatments and scholarly debates. Behrouzan identifies depreshen, as well as other psychopathologies such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as diagnoses that have grown in popularity over the past three decades. She then follows the many elusive manifestations of psychiatric discourses and therapeutic practices amongst Iranians. Behrouzan asks questions that are not only relevant to Iranians but which also reflect global trends pertaining to increased rates of prescribing and consuming psycho-pharmaceuticals, an adoption of American clinical language, and an acceptance of an agenda standardized by American pharmaceutical companies. How, she asks, has the normalization of the psychiatric vernacular engendered new ways “of knowing, interpreting, and perceiving oneself in the world?” How might the contemporary psychiatric vernacular open up new ways of expressing mental or emotional conditions in Iran?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

What the Present Debate About Autonomous Weapons is Getting Wrong

Author: Michael Robillard

Many people are deeply worried about the prospect of autonomous weapons systems (AWS). Many of these worries are merely contingent, having to do with issues like unchecked proliferation or potential state abuse. Several philosophers, however, have advanced a stronger claim, arguing that there is, in principle, something morally wrong with the use of AWS independent of these more pragmatic concerns. Some have argued, explicitly or tacitly, that the use of AWS is inherently morally problematic in virtue of a so-called ‘responsibility gap’ that their use necessarily entails.

We can summarise this thesis as follows:

  1. In order to wage war ethically, we must be able to justly hold someone morally responsible for the harms caused in war.
  2. Neither the programmers of an AWS nor its military implementers could justly be held morally responsible for the battlefield harms caused by AWS.
  3. We could not, as a matter of conceptual possibility, hold an AWS itself morally responsible for its actions, including its actions that cause harms in war.
  4. Hence, a morally problematic ‘gap’ in moral responsibility is created, thereby making it impermissible to wage war through the use of AWS.

This thesis is mistaken. This is so for the simple reason that, at the end of the day, the AWS is an agent in the morally relevant sense or it isn’t.

If it isn’t, then premise 2 is either false and moral responsibility falls on the persons within the causal chain to the extent that they knew or should have known the harm they were contributing to and the degree to which they could have done otherwise, or premise 2 is true but vacuous because the harm was a result of a genuine accident.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals – April 2016 Part I by Michelle Pentecost

Welcome to the first stack of ‘In the Journals’ for April! It’s a bumper crop, so find a cosy corner and some coffee to comb through it all. Happy reading!

Medicine Anthropology Theory

Is the 21st century the age of biomedicalization?

Eileen Moyer and Vinh-Kim Nguyen

(Excerpt from editorial )

The diverse contributions that make up this issue of MAT, we gingerly suggest, could initiate a provocative conversation in response to the following question: what if biomedicine, or to be more precise ‘biomedicalization’(Clarke 2003), is to the twenty-first century as industrialization was to the nineteenth? …. The question of whether biomedicalization will be the twenty-first-century equivalent to industrialization sprang to mind in reading Catherine Waldby and Melinda Cooper’s important book, Clinical Labor, reviewed in this issue by Neil Singh (and is also raised by another important volume, Lively Capital, edited by Kaushik Sunder Rajan). Singh underlines the central argument of the book: surrogacy, participation in clinical trials, donation of body parts, and other practices enabled by a global regime of biomedicine can be theorized together as forms of clinical labour that are derived from the body’s inherent potential for regeneration. There is, in this, a parallel to the assemblage of machines in factories, which enabled the emergence of a working class united by their engagement in industrial labour. Industrialization signed the transformation of the relationship between consciousness, embodiment, and human engagement with the material world, increasingly subsumed into raw material for transformation through industrialized labour into the commodity form.

 

Biomedical packages: Adjusting drugs, bodies, and environment in a phase III clinical trial

Charlotte Brives

Clinical trials are a fundamental stage in a drug’s biography for they provide the standard by which a molecule’s therapeutic status is determined.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

John Foot’s The Man Who Closed the Asylums: Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care by Nirmala Jayaraman

The Man Who Closed The Asylums: Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care

by John Foot

Verso Press, 2015, 404 pages

Embracing change is the best way to keep up with John Foot’s pace in his book, The Man Who Closed The Asylums: Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care (2015). Foot’s holistic approach will appeal to anthropologists and general readers alike as he gathers insight on those who were recovering from both physical and psychological maltreatment in a post-war world (169). This balanced and fair-minded account of mental healthcare reform in 1960’s Italy shows that a hospital’s culture reflects how society at large is structured (175). The book explores how the psychiatrist Franco Basaglia persuaded members of the healthcare community to shut down asylums where abusive practices were being used on patients (133). These meetings lead to legislation where the delivery of mental healthcare would be incorporated into hospitals that covered the general patient population as more people discontinued the use of psychiatric asylums (374). Foot writes that, “As director in Gorizia, Basaglia quickly became convinced that the entire asylum system was morally bankrupt. He saw no medical benefits in the way that patients were treated inside these institutions. On the contrary, he became convinced that some of the eccentric or disturbing behavior of the patients was created or exacerbated by the institution itself” (22).

Basaglia sought to make asylums more humane, but as part of a larger strategy to close down asylums altogether, since reform could not redeem an outdated model of healthcare that survived a period of fascism and the Second World War (157).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Can wars ever be just or are wars merely justifiable?: The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo via freedigitalphotos.net.

STUDENT VOICES

By: Louise Boshab

The concepts of justice and injustice are not effective in defining war in an objective manner but on the other hand easily bring on a subjective understanding of war among populations, which will then influence either their opposition or their support of war (Gaoshan 280).

In a lecture at the Carnegie Council, David Rodin of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict addresses the issue of the ethics of war and conflict, and caused me to reflect upon what makes a war just. I will explore the ideas of justified and unjustified wars discussed in Rodin’s talk through the example of the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of the initial reasons behind the intermittent conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo taking place since 1997 has to do with the status of the Banyarwanda—Congolese people of Rwandan descent—and of the Congolese Tutsi within Congolese society. The strong anti-Rwandan feelings that existed before the war only grew worse.

In African Affairs, author Filip Reyntjens attributes this deterioration of relationships between ethnic groups to the behavior of the Banyarwanda and Congolese Tutsi towards the general population. Reyntjens explains that “local populations were harassed, insulted and humiliated; the ‘liberators’ seized household appliances, communication equipment, cars, cattle and houses” (243). He then adds: “already by the end of 1996, a number of organizations and movements started to emerge whose stated objective was to fight ‘Tutsi hegemonism’ and which used violent anti-Tutsi language” (243).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The Year in Bioethics That Was – 2015

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Happy New Year. As has become a tradition at the bioethics.net blogs, the ending of one year and beginning of another is a time for reflection, for reviewing that year that has passed and planning for the year to come.

In 2015, bioethics.net is pleased to have had 18 bloggers contribute to our 99 posts. A very big thank you to these insightful scholars: Alison Bateman-House, Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby, Arthur Caplan, Nanette Elster, Joseph Fins, Bela Fishbeyn, Ellen Fox, Macey Henderson, Lisa Kearns, Jenna Lillemoe, Kayhan Parsi, Keisha Ray, Jeanie Sauderland, Charles Seife, Adil Shamoo, Christopher Thomas Scott, and Amanda Zink. Their insights, reporting, and reflection on the big topics and ideas of this past year helped enrich the bioethics conversation.

While most of our blogs are complex, covering multiple topics, for the purposes of looking at the themes in the 2014 blogs, each post was placed in only one category.

  • Politics/Policy/Law – 11 posts
  • Research Ethics – 9 posts
  • Public Health – 8 posts
  • Media – 8 posts
  • Medical Professionalism – 7 posts
  • End of Life – 6 posts
  • Bioethics Professionalism – 5 posts
  • Philosophy – 5 posts
  • Children – 4posts
  • Data Science – 4 posts
  • Transplants/Donations – 4 posts
  • Education – 4 posts
  • Sports – 3 posts
  • Clinical Ethics – 2 posts
  • Planned Parenthood – 2 posts
  • Torture/War – 2 posts
  • Genetics – 2 posts
  • Drugs/Pharma – 2 posts
  • Race/Discrimination – 2 posts
  • AJOB Editorial – 1 post
  • Beginning of Life – 1 post
  • Disability – 1 post
  • Guns – 1 post
  • Obituary – 1 post
  • Technology – 1 post
  • Parenthood – 1 post
  • Year in review – 1 post

In a year that saw the launch of the 2016 Presidential campaign it is no surprise that Politics/Policy/Law were the most popular topics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Zoë Wool’s “After War: The Weight of Life At Walter Reed” by Christopher Webb

After War: The Weight of Life At Walter Reed

by Zoë Wool

Duke University Press, 2015, 264 pages.

In After War: The Weight of Life At Walter Reed, Zoë Wool shares her experience working with some of the most grievously wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During a year of research from 2007-2008, Wool conducted fieldwork with amputees recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, the military hospital complex that has become emblematic of the post-war experience of American combat wounded service members.

Before she embarks on her ethnographic portrait of life at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Wool makes explicit some important characteristics of the people and environment she describes, which are vital to understanding the context of her project. First, she notes that the overwhelming majority of her participants are male. Current critical military scholars are careful to avoid the homogenizing of the diverse uniformed members of the military as “men.” However, Wool acknowledges that the maleness of the demographic she was working with is omnipresent and the theme of normative masculinity it produces becomes central to this narrative. Wool is also clear that the experience of a decade’s worth of combat wounded veterans is quite diverse. The ratio of troops serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan shifted throughout the war, as did the prevalence of certain types of combat injury (gunshot wounds versus blast injuries from roadside bombs). Thus, there was a similarity of experience that profoundly shaped the narrative of the people whose lives are captured in this book, the overwhelming majority of whom served in Iraq and were wounded by explosions that resulted in lower extremity amputations.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals, August 2015 by Aaron Seaman

In addition to special issues highlighted earlier this month on Somatosphere — Limn (on “Ebola’s Ecologies“), the Annals of Anthropological Practice (on “Community Health Workers and Social Change: Global and Local Perspectives“), and Social Theory & Health (entitled “Theorising Health Inequalities” — the month provided, as always, a bevy of good reading, including a special section of Social Studies of Science on the ontological turn (see below). Enjoy!

American Ethnologist

Biomedicine, the whiteness of sleep, and the wages of spatiotemporal normativity in the United States
Matthew Wolf-Meyer

The racialization of individuals in the contemporary United States is increasingly accomplished through institutional actors, including scientists and physicians. As genetic health risks, chronic disease treatments, and pharmaceuticals come to define Americans’ understanding of themselves, a fundamental shift is occurring in the way medicine is practiced and its role in the production of subjectivity. Underlying these changes is an expectation of orderly bodies—of “white” bodies that exemplify social and cultural norms of biology and behavior. Fundamental to U.S. medical ideas of normativity is that the white heteronormative subject is the standard against which disorderly and nonwhite subjects are to be judged. I explore these ideas through the history and contemporary world of sleep: the clinical production and interpretation of related scientific data, advertising use of images of sleep-disordered patients who have been “cured,” and experiences of nonwhite Americans within mainstream sleep medicine.

The doctor’s political body: Doctor–patient interactions and sociopolitical belonging in Venezuelan state clinics
Amy Cooper

Patients of Venezuelan state clinics ascribe meanings to doctor–patient interactions that reverberate beyond the immediacy of the clinical encounter to shape political subjectivities.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Bomb Ecologies? Inhabiting Disability in Postconflict Laos by Leah Zani

I am an anthropologist researching postwar revival and development in Lao PDR (Laos), the most cluster-bombed country in the world (Branfman 2013). Through fieldwork with development organizations and bomb clearance operators, I examine how ongoing violence, due to explosive remnants of war, is incorporated into peacetime development. Inspired by the theme of this series, Inhabitable Worlds, I take this opportunity to interrogate how war-contaminated areas are also sites of disability care and assistance. How are hazardous areas productive of certain kinds of bodies and disabilities? Is living in danger a disability? The ethnographic data I use in this paper is by no means characteristic of the entire disability sector in Laos, but is perhaps characteristic of the confluence of danger and rehabilitation in postwar zones. Here, I trace my thinking through this phenomena towards the beginnings of a theory of bomb ecologies.

I am studying a context in which people qualify for social services based on their status as disabled or as war victims/survivors; but, in practice, what qualified people as one or the other is very uncertain. I hesitate to offer definitions of disability, victimhood, or survivorship since definitions are not forthcoming from my ethnographic data. Definitions might mislead the reader into thinking that these are stable categories applied to groups of people in Laos—a mode of thought that is counter to my goal in this post. In Laos, there is no consensus among stakeholders about the definitions of disability, victimhood, or survivorship. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, for example, defines victims as “all persons who have been killed or suffered physical or psychological injury, economic loss, social marginalisation or substantial impairment of the realisation of their rights caused by the use of cluster munitions.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Jamie Cohen-Cole’s The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature by Marie Elizabeth Burks


The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature

by Jamie Cohen-Cole

University of Chicago Press, 2014, 368 pages.

The Closed World of the Open Mind

In Jamie Cohen-Cole’s hands, the concept of the open mind becomes an effective historiographical tool with which to trace some of the intersections of the social sciences and American political culture during the Cold War. Cohen-Cole shows how open-mindedness—“a kind of mind characterized by autonomy, creativity, and the use of reason” (2)—became a salient notion in postwar America. He argues that, for an elite community of intellectuals and scientists, policy makers, foundation officers, and university administrators, the image of the open mind was capacious enough to “unify the political and intellectual desiderata of the time” (2).

There is growing interest among historians of science in how social scientists and other experts thought about thinking during the Cold War. One group of authors contends that efforts to define rationality constituted a central project of the postwar human sciences, representing a quest to simultaneously unify disciplines and stave off nuclear war.[i] Historians have also begun to emphasize that the character of the social sciences wasn’t determined by the national security state and its demands. Social scientists’ working relationships with government and military agencies were in fact often characterized by ambivalence, negotiation, and even intellectual autonomy.[ii] Echoing these voices, Cohen-Cole points out that there is not always “a clear and direct connection between the forms of human reason analyzed in the sciences and Cold War military imperatives,” and that “significant segments of social science operated on a much broader political register than those defined by military concerns” (7).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.