Matthew Finston’s Genealogy of Jewish psychology: A Study of Mad Jews

In the “Genealogy of Jewish psychology,” Finston traces the historical formation of a style of therapeutic-healing practices developed by Polish Jewish mystics. To do this, Finston traces a constitutive genealogy of the hasidic zaddik from the baal shem, to the Paracelsian folk-physicians, to the Polish School of Philosophy in order to deconstruct the concept of ‘Jewish psychology’ as developed by Israeli sociopsychologist Mordechai Rotenberg. Furthermore, Finston explores the discursive strategies utilized by the practitioners of health to assert their status in society as the elite from the 15th through the 20th century without the use of the clinical gaze. Through this genealogical study, Finston exposes an approach to healing that formed outside the confines of the hospital. As a result, Finston reveals an alternative discourse of the doctor-patient relation that does not homogenize the patient; instead, it develops a language of the self that places curation of the self over knowledge of the self.

John Giunta, “From Mind-Blind to Neurocosmopolite”

In this paper, John Giunta charts the individual trajectories of cognitive and disability studies’ approaches to comprehending the controversial Theory of Mind, also known as “mind-reading.” Responding to the recent evolution in the work of prominent cognitive theorist Lisa Zunshine, Giunta maps out the recent strides in unifying the two formerly disparate fields into a working dialogue, yielding up a new vision of mind-misreading that opens up spaces for understanding a spectrum of Theory of Mind that does not rely on deficits, “mind-blindness”, or exclusionary thinking. Mind-misreading, as a concept, allows for an area of ambiguity, or “mysteriousness,” which then leads to productive investigation into the mechanics of previously unexplored facets of Theory of Mind, such as age, education, or reasoning skills. As a result, a Theory of Mind that encompasses and includes the Autism Spectrum and a broader survey of neurotypes is produced – creating the necessity for Ralph James Savarese’ concept of Neurocosmopolitanism.

Yana Walton: “To Thine Own Self be True: Self narratives, genderqueer identity, and transition access”

Gender has been theorized to be one of the primary frames from which understandings of self and other arise. In this paper, Yana Walton explores the ways that the popular modern western discourse of the “true self” has fostered the conditions under which formations of non-binary gender identities have proliferated. More salient than any medical or psychological research done to pinpoint the causes of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria, linguistic narratives rooted in the concept of the “true self” have expanded access to mental, physical, and social transition for transgender and non-binary identified individuals, and modified the standards of care and practices of community health clinics. Despite the ways in which queer theorists have problematized the concepts of identity and true self, Walton traces the relationship between this popularly accepted concept, and the pathways and narratives used by gender non-conforming individuals to access transition care from the 1970s to present that function to produce gender. Despite such gains, access to care remains limited for many transgender and genderqueer people. Because the types of care available actually constructs and constricts the ways in which gender operates and is performed, this work raises implications for the conditions under which we may imagine less restrictive possibilities of gender experience for us all.