Fall 2013 Public Lecture
Dr. Michael Fontaine (Cornell University)
"On Being Sane in an Insane Place: The Rosenhan Experiment in the Laboratory of Plautus' Epidamnus"
Thursday, September 26
Commons Annex Lecture Hall
Synopsis: Plautus’ Roman comedy Menaechmi (The Two Menaechmuses) of c. 200 BC anticipates in fictional form the famous Rosenhan experiment of 1973, a landmark critique of psychiatric diagnosis. An analysis of the scenes of feigned madness and psychiatric examination suggests that the play (and the earlier Greek play from which it was adapted) offers two related ethical reflections, one on the validity of psychiatric diagnoses, the other on the validity of the entire medical model of insanity—that is, of the popular notion and political truth that mental illness is a (bodily) disease ‘like any other’. The paper is thus offered as a contribution to the interpretation of the play as well as to the history of Psychiatry.
Free of charge. All are welcome. A reception will follow.