This talk examines the phenomenological features of voice-hearing in different settings—religious and secular, modern and medieval. I draw from hundreds and hundreds of interviews with people who do, and do not, meet criteria for serious psychotic disorder and who have experiences of hearing voices. On that basis I ask, what kinds of inferences might an anthropologist draw about the possible phenomenology of the events being reported? We will never know what "really" happened to (for example) the early Christians. But as a phenomenologically oriented anthropologist, I can report on specific patterns that seem to be represented again and again in a variety of social settings.
An additional talk will be hosted by the Department of Cultural Anthropology earlier the same day.
“Local ‘theory’ of mind and why it matters”
1:30 – 3pm
This talk makes the argument that the way we think about our minds matters, and may shape our mental events. It makes the case that people find evidence of God’s presence in mental events; that different practices of attending to mental events have identifiable consequences; and that different cultures and different theologies emphasize mind and mental process in distinctive ways. The talk then goes on to present evidence that this has consequences for the way charismatic Christians experience God and the way persons who meet criteria for schizophrenia experience psychosis in the US, Accra and Chennai. The data suggest that one consequence of the different ways of representing mind and mental experience is that Americans have a harsher experience of psychosis, and less spiritual experience.