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Geographies of compulsive bodies: Reimagining the nature of Tourette syndrome

Beljaars, Diana 2015. Geographies of compulsive bodies: Reimagining the nature of Tourette syndrome. Presented at: Critical Dialogues on Psychology, Behaviour and Brain Science. Graduate and Early Career Summer School, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK, 15 September 2015.

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In understanding human being, in the past decade human geographers, and in particular those concerned with deviations from the norms have sought to understand human conditions and their alternative ways of being with the world (see Hansen & Philo, 2007). In seeking to contribute to and expand on this work, this paper does two things. First, it problematizes how human conditions have come to be understood in almost exclusively medical terms. In lacking a consideration for socio-spatial contexts in ways conditions express, a particular imagination of these conditions is created. Tourette syndrome (TS) is such a human condition that is currently being understood as a phenomenon that occurs strictly in the brain and in the body parts involved in its expression. Consequently, its distinctly spatial nature is not recognised as contributing to TS’s understanding, despite its pronunciation in compulsive behaviours that evoke physical interactions with socio-material environments - e.g. compulsive touching and symmetry or balance seeking behaviour. Therefore, human geographical conceptualisations of ‘place’ could help advance the understanding of the condition and the circumstances of its expressions. Second, by exploring TS induced bodily interactions with socio-material environments through literature on TS in neuropsychiatry, embodiment health and disability geography, and affect and the sensory in nonrepresentational theories, the paper seeks to reimagine the nature of the TS condition. In this process, the paper aims to help advance human geographical understandings of affective interactions with the more-than-human through the concept of compulsivity. Herewith, the paper suggests pathways to new research on alternative human conditions that can help understand how human beings relate to the world around them. As such, the paper calls for research that does not only seek to understand what makes human conditions different, but how differences help to understand human being.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:03

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