Jonathan Glover discusses his new book “Alien Landscapes? Interpreting disordered minds” at SSHM on 14 January

We are delighted to announce that Prof Jonathan Glover (Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King’s College London) will be discussing his latest book
Alien Landscapes? Interpreting disordered minds(published by Harvard University Press in 2014) at the first seminar of the SSHM seminar series in 2015.

Prof Jonathan Glover among his books

Prof Jonathan Glover among his books

When: Wednesday, 14 January, 2015,13:00-14:30

Where: K2.31 (Nash Lecture Theatre), KCL Strand Campus

Jonathan Glover has written several books on ethics, including Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century and Causing Death and Saving Lives. He chaired a European Commission Working Party on Assisted Reproduction. He is interested in questions raised by the Human Genome Project. He is currently interested in a number of issues in global ethics and in ethical issues in psychiatry.

Professor Glover is also a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

Personal website:


We have made huge progress in understanding the biology of mental illnesses, but comparatively little in interpreting them at the psychological level. In his most recent book, ‘Alien Landscapes? Interpreting disordered minds’ (Harvard University Press 2014), the eminent philosopher Jonathan Glover argues that there is real hope of progress in the human interpretation of disordered minds. The challenge is that the inner worlds of people with psychiatric disorders can seem strange, like alien landscapes, and this strangeness can deter attempts at understanding. Do people with disorders share enough psychology with other people to make interpretation possible? To explore this question, Glover tackles the hard cases—the inner worlds of hospitalized violent criminals, of people with delusions, and of those diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia. Their first-person accounts offer glimpses of inner worlds behind apparently bizarre psychiatric conditions and allow us to begin to learn the “language” used to express psychiatric disturbance. Art by psychiatric patients, or by such complex figures as van Gogh and William Blake, give insight when interpreted from Glover’s unique perspective. He also draws on dark chapters in psychiatry’s past to show the importance of not medicalizing behavior that merely transgresses social norms. And finally, Glover suggests values, especially those linked with agency and identity, to guide how the boundaries of psychiatry should be drawn. Seamlessly blending philosophy, science, literature, and art, ‘Alien Landscapes’ is both a sustained defense of humanistic psychological interpretation and a compelling example of the rich and generous approach to mental life for which it argues. Jonathan Glover will present and discuss key arguments of his book in this seminar.

For more information on the SSHM Research Seminar Series, please visit this link.

For more information about the MA in Bioethics & Society, please visit this link.

This entry was posted in Applied Philosophy, Bioethics, Psychiatry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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