The Nature and Phenomenology of Neurodivergence
The 4th Biennial Conference of the Network for Phenomenological Research
June 1-3, 2023
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Neurodivergence and its various manifestations have attracted a significant amount of interest both in philosophy and in the empirical and clinical sciences of the mind fostering new research on the autistic spectrum, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, etc. Despite this sustained, and actually ever-growing interest in the scientific community, a large number of issues remain in need of clarification and demand urgent attention. The Nature and Phenomenology of Neurodivergence is a two and a half-day conference that aims at shedding light mainly on the nature and phenomenology of the neurodivergent mind broadly construed, although a main focus of the conference will be on the autistic spectrum and its nosological characteristics and boundaries, e.g., in relation to the schizophrenia spectrum.
Call for Abstracts
Date: June 1-3, 2023
Place: Department of Humanities, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.
The workshop takes place in person.
Organisers: Marta Jorba (Pompeu Fabra University), Alessandro Salice (University College Cork), Agustín Vicente (UPV/EHU).
Abstract submission. We welcome submissions that include a short abstract of 150 words and an extended abstract of around 1.000 words by February 15, 2023, to be sent to [email protected] and [email protected] There is a limited number of available slots for selected presentations in the workshop. Selected papers will be considered for publication in a Special Issue on an academic journal of relevance to the interdisciplinary perspective of the workshop.
Rationale. Neurodivergence and its various manifestations have attracted a significant amount of interest both in philosophy and in the empirical and clinical sciences of the mind fostering new research on the autistic spectrum, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, etc. Despite this sustained, and actually ever-growing interest in the scientific community, a large number of issues remain in need of clarification and demand urgent attention. The Nature and Phenomenology of Neurodivergence is a two and a half-days conference that aims at shedding light mainly on the nature and phenomenology of the neurodivergent mind broadly construed, although a main focus of the conference will be on the autistic spectrum and its nosological characteristics and boundaries, e.g., in relation to the schizophrenia spectrum.
Some questions the workshop aims at addressing are: How is heterogeneity to be conceived within the autistic and the schizophrenia spectrum? How should the presence of psychotic symptoms in autism be interpreted? What is the relation between autism and personality disorders like, e.g., schizotypal disorder? What is the relation between autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? How does the gender dimension impact diagnosis? How are experiences and symptoms in these conditions related to the medical and social models of mental health and what are their implications for neurodiversity movements?
The workshop will bring together national and international scholars from different disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, gender and disability studies, and artists, and welcomes contributions from mental health researchers and practitioners more generally. We encourage submissions promoting a phenomenological perspective that becomes evident in the systematic approach of the investigation or in its historical underpinning.
Contributions on the concepts of mental health/illness, normality, neurodiversity, and neurodivergence are welcome, and possible topics of interest include but are not limited to: inner speech, delusions, hallucinations, thought-insertion, affective processes, non-typical rationality, disturbances in social experiences (e.g. social cognition and shared intentionality), camouflaging, repetitive behaviors, rigidity, and the way in which these symptoms manifest themselves in various mental conditions.
Participants of the workshop are invited to attend an artistic performance by one of our invited speakers, Jody O’Neill, and to engage in an open discussion with the artist on how neurodivergence can be reflected upon from—and reflect on—the artistic perspective.
- Robert Chapman: Senior Lecturer in Autism and Education at Sheffield Hallam, UK. They are a philosopher interested in psychiatry, neurodiversity, disability, medical humanities, social epistemology, critical theory. They are currently working on a book provisionally titled Neurodiversity and Capitalism: the history of normality and the politics of mental health.
- Sofia Jeppsson: Associate professor of philosophy at Umeå University, Sweden. Her research focuses on free will, moral responsibility, rationality, respect, and the philosophy of psychiatry. Her interest in the philosophy of psychiatry has grown partly from her previous research, partly from her own experiences of psychosis.
- Mads G. Henriksen: Associate Professor in Philosophy of Psychiatry, Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen, and Senior Researcher, Mental Health Centre Amager, University Hospital of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research mainly focuses on phenomenological psychopathology, with an emphasis on schizophrenia and self-disorders, and on classical phenomenological philosophy.
- Jody O’Neill: autistic artist, producer, and disability advocate, based in Dublin, Ireland. She has spent the past five years researching and developing making inclusive theatre that promotes acceptance and social change. Her play What I (Don’t) Know About Autism received the WGI Zebbie Award for Best Theatre Script in 2021. She is currently Theatre Artist-in-Residence at University College Cork and Cork Opera House and received a 2022 Markievicz Award from the Arts Council of Ireland to examine the role of cis women and gender-diverse women in disability activism since the foundation of the Irish State.
Sara Arnaud (Western University) is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University. Her research interests lie in the area of philosophy of psychology and psychiatry, and philosophy of mind, mainly on emotion, consciousness, and autism. Her current research focuses primarily on unconscious emotions, self-consciousness, the relations between emotion and perception, the neurodiversity movement, activist movements in psychiatry and their impact on the science of mental health. Previously, she was a postdoc fellow at the University of Antwerp, before that, a postdoc at the Canada Research Chair on Epistemic Injustice and Agency, at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and before that, a postdoc at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). She completed her Ph.D. in philosophy at UQAM and Paris-Sorbonne, in 2018. She is also one of the founders of Philo-Située (previously Fillosophie), which promotes the presence and impact of women – trans inclusive – in philosophy; and co-founder and organizer of the Webinar in Philosophy of Psychiatry.
Valeria Bizzari (Husserl Archives Leuven) is a PhD candidate and currently works at the Husserl Archives of the Catholic University in Leuven. Her research interests involve phenomenology, philosophy of emotions and phenomenological psychopathology. From 2018 to the end of 2020, she worked at the Clinic for General Psychiatry, Universität Heidelberg, with a project on Asperger’s syndrome. She spent visiting research periods at the Center for Subjectivity Research in Copenhagen, the Oxford Empathy Programme at University of Oxford, and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wien.
Nina de Boer (Radboud University) is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Her work lies on the intersection between philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of psychiatry. Her PhD project focuses on the epistemic potential and limitations of network accounts of mental disorders and differences. Is it beneficial to conceptualize and study these conditions as stable sets of interacting factors that span biological, psychological, social, and existential domains? Does this provide alternative forms of understanding or new explanations? In her work, she uses insights from philosophy of modeling to explore how we use scientific and conceptual models of mental disorders and differences to make sense of ourselves and others. She recently received a Christine Mohrmann Grant to investigate how her work intersects with questions concerning neurodiversity. She also works as an editorial assistant for Philosophical Explorations, an international journal for the philosophy of mind and action
Veronica Boniotti (University of Trento) currently works as a psychologist in her private practice, in psychiatric hospitals, and in schools in Italy. She is specialized in autism spectrum disorder. She is a third-year student at the Psychotherapy Phenomenological-Psychodinamic School in Florence. Her research interests involve autism spectrum, philosophy, psychiatry, arts, phenomenology, embodied cognition, and phenomenological psychopathology. She is working on the development of a therapeutic approach, ENACT Model, based on sensoriality, movement, inter-corporality, musicality (Trevarthen; 1999), and intersubjectivity. She is collaborating with DIRimè Association at the Stella Maris Center in Tuscany and with Santa Giuliana Hospital in Verona. She is a certificated therapist in DIRFloortime approach and Feuerstein Method. She is the artistic director of a contemporary dance and physical theatre company called Seesaw Project, and she is the president of an Association called Seesaw APS that promote research, social, cultural, and artistic projects.
Maxine Caswell (National Health System, UK) has been a registered mental health nurse since 1990. She has experience in Forensic Psychiatry, both in patient and community settings; as a Mental Health Act Commissioner in High Secure Settings and a Refugee Health Worker. Currently she is working as a Community Psychiatric Nurse in Early Intervention in Psychosis, since 2009. This service has a high number of young people referred with ‘apparent’ first episode psychosis who have undiagnosed (in the main) neurodevelopmental conditions. Maxine has an autistic son, which she feels is a factor in having a ‘radar’ for neurodiversity being a key factor in the struggles of many of the young people referred to our team. Maxine also co-facilitates a a group in the NHS for people who have been involved in mental health services, exploring issues faced by neurodivergent people when navigating the neurotypical world.
Anna Drożdżowicz (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences) is an associate professor at the Department of Law, Philosophy and International Studies (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences). She works in the philosophy of mind and language, as well as in the philosophy of psychiatry. She is currently the PI of the project Perceiving Voice and Speaker funded by the Research Council of Norway.
Francesco Fanti Rovetta (University of Osnabrück) is a PhD candidate at the RTG Situated Cognition group (Ruhr-University Bochum & Osnabrück University) in Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. phil. Kompa. He visited the Situated self-control group at Utrecht University as external researcher. The aim of his project is to investigate the role of internalized language or inner speech in relation to the development of the various dimensions of selfhood and self-understanding (narrative, autobiographical, embodied). In doing so, he is particularly interested in Neo-Vygotskian approaches, which highlight the role of inner speech as an internalized social practice functional to organizing, directing, and controlling behaviours, as well as its role for self-understanding, and social cognition. He is also interested in abductive or hypothetical inferences, focussing particularly on proposing a framework of deception in terms of adversarial abductive reasoning.
Carolina Flores (University of California, Irvine) works at the intersection of philosophy of mind, epistemology, and social philosophy. She has written on the nature of belief, delusions and evidence, and on the role of social identity identities in cognition. She earned her PhD at Rutgers in 2022, and is currently a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in philosophy at UC Irvine. In Fall 2023, she will join UC Santa Cruz as an assistant professor of philosophy.
Valentina Petrolini (University of the Basque Country) is a philosopher of psychology and psychiatry. She currently works as Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), where she is a member of the Language in Neurodiversity Lab (Lindy Lab). Her research interests center around the boundaries between normal and pathological and on the notion of vulnerability applied to psychiatric conditions. She has worked on theoretical and methodological issues in psychiatry, as well as on autistic camouflaging, delusions, and the role of affect in depressive disorders.
Kate Quinn is a Clinical Psychologist and co-director of the community development project Heavy Metal Therapy (an online space focused on the possible well-being benefits of engagement with extreme music). Her research interests are in community psychology, co-production, heavy metal music communities, and creative approaches for supporting people with mental health difficulties. Kate works clinically in the NHS in England in Early Intervention in Psychosis and is interested in voice hearing, dissociation and neurodiversity. She co-facilitates a group in the NHS for people who have been involved in mental health services, exploring issues faced by neurodivergent people when navigating the neurotypical world.
Kay Antigona Subijana (University of the Basque Country) is an autistic undergrad Philosophy student at University of the Basque Country. Their main interests in research are mad, neurodiversity and trans studies. They are currently focused on analyzing the link between transness and autism from a neurodiversity lens, as well as on developing sounder philosophical frameworks to take account of autistic mindedness, coming from first-person autistic reports. In the future, they would like to explore embodied epistemologies present in trans literature. They are also vocal about the need in Academia to reckon with its endemic power disbalances.
Víctor Verdejo (Pompeu Fabra University) is a Ramón y Cajal fellow at the Department of Humanities, Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). He has produced a good number of publications on the nature of thought and concepts and related areas of philosophy of language and cognitive science. His most recent research focuses on the first person, communication and bodily action. He is one of the co-editors of the book Sharing Thoughts, forthcoming with Oxford University Press.
Programme and abstracts
9,45h Welcome and presentation
Chair: Alessandro Salice
10h-11h Sofia Jeppsson (Umeå University): The Need for a Wider Understanding of the ‘Social Model of Disability’ for Mental Health Conditions
11h-11,40h Kay A. Subijana (University of the Basque Country): Rethinking Autistic Mindedness: A Trans Neurodivergent Approach
11,40h-12,10h Coffee Break
12,10h-12,50h Valentina Petrolini (University of the Basque Country): Diagnostic Status and Identity: The Right to Privacy
Chair: Marta Jorba
14,30h-15,10h Kate Quinn & Maxine Caswell (National Health System, UK): Co-produced Projects Exploring Mental Health and Neurodiversity – Dr Who and Heavy Metal
15,10h-16,35h Jody O’Neill (Dublin): Play Screening "What I (Don't) Know About Autism"
16,55h-17,55h Group Discussion with Jody O’Neill
Chair: Philipp Schmidt
10h-11h Mads G Henriksen (University of Copenhagen): Psychiatric Comorbidity—A Concept in Need of a Theory
11,15h-11,55h Carolina Flores (University of California, Irvine): Rehabilitating Reasoning in Schizophrenia
Chair: Valentina Petrolini
12,10h-12,50h Víctor Verdejo (Pompeu Fabra University): On the Rationality of Judgments of Ownership in Schizophrenia
14,30h-15,10h Anna Drożdżowicz (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences): Linguistic Communication in Mental Healthcare Settings – Towards a Normative Framework
Chair: Daniel Gregory
15,10h-15,50h Francesco Fanti Rovetta (University of Osnabrück): The Glass Half Empty—Verbal Rumination as Perspectival Entrenchment
15,50h-16,20h Coffee Break
16,20h-17h Sarah Arnaud (Western University): First-Person Perspectives and Scientific Inquiry of Autism. Towards an Integrative Approach
Chair: Mariela Destefano
10h-10,40h Nina de Boer (Radboud University): Models of mental difference: tools for self-understanding?
10,40h-11,20h Valeria Bizzari (Husserl Archives Leuven) & Veronica Boniotti (University of Trento): Dancing Bodies. Towards a New Model of Understanding Neurodivergence
11,20h-11,50h Coffee Break
Chair: Víctor Verdejo
11,50h-12,50h Robert Chapman (Sheffield Hallam University): How many neurodivergents should there be?
This is an in-person only event.
The participation and attendance is free, but registration is required by sending an e-mail to [email protected] before May 20, 2023.
Venue and practical information
June 1 & 2
Room: Auditori Mercè Rodoreda
Mercè Rodoreda Building
Pompeu Fabra University
c/ Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Room: Albert Calsamiglia Hall
Roger de Llúria Building
Pompeu Fabra University
Suggestions for hotels
Nearby Ciutadella Campus
Hotel Acta Voraport
Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella
Hotel La Ciudadela
Hotel SB Icaria
Nearby Poblenou Campus
Capri by Fraser Barcelona
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
Hotel Acta Voraport
Hotel Holiday Inn Express Barcelona City [email protected]
Hotel Ibis Barcelona [email protected]
Novotel Barcelona City
SB Hotels Mediterranean Urban Concept
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación/ Agencia Estatal de Investigación
Project Inner Speech in Action: New Perspectives (INACT). Ref: PID2020-115052GA-I00.
BBVA Foundation, Research Project Rigidez y Literalidad en el Espectro Autista (RILITEA)