Psychiatry

Somatosphere: the first 15 years. Dörte Bemme in conversation with Eugene Raikhel

Somatosphere: the first 15 years. Dörte Bemme in conversation with Eugene Raikhel


Dörte Bemme: Tell me a little bit about Somatosphere’s origin story. How did it all begin? Eugene Raikhel: The website was launched in the middle of 2008, but the important broader context is that this was a time when there was a flourishing blogosphere in anthropology and related fields. There was a lot of activity […]
Introduction: Book Forum on ‘The Doctor Who Wasn’t There’ and ‘The Distance Cure’

Introduction: Book Forum on ‘The Doctor Who Wasn’t There’ and ‘The Distance Cure’


In this forum, five scholars from different but intersecting fields of historical research engage with Hannah Zeavin and Jeremy Greene’s recent books on telehealth and telemedicine. As all of the contributors highlight, Zeavin and Greene’s books provide inspiring analyses of the potentials and limitations of electronic technologies in medicine and healthcare. In the following, I […]
Learning from the History of Experimental Telehealth

Learning from the History of Experimental Telehealth


The increased demand for distant cures amid heightened concerns about infection in healthcare facilities, coupled with the “great resignation” in medicine since the COVID pandemic, have together created the unfortunate circumstances in which we find the American healthcare system in 2024. This is a moment, like many we have seen before, in which new, unproven […]
Via media: power and ideology in tele-therapy

Via media: power and ideology in tele-therapy


The Distance Cure and The Doctor Who Wasn’t There are political books about medical media. Zeavin offers illuminating analyses of a range of distant psychotherapies: epistolary analysis, telephonic church services, suicide crisis telephone hotlines, computer-based therapies, and e-therapy (what Zeavin calls “therapeutic written speech”). For her, the media involved in these therapies are “active metaphors […]
Medicine at a Distance

Medicine at a Distance


“all new media deal in futures” -Jeremy Greene “automation is the dream of autonomy” -Hannah Zeavin It was at once an odd experience and an exhilarating one. Sitting at the edge of the sofa, I leaned over towards the coffee table to turn on my laptop and open the required application. I waited, intermittently checking […]
The Power of Medical Experts’ Distance From Technology

The Power of Medical Experts’ Distance From Technology


Hanna Zeavin’s The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy, and Jeremy A. Greene’s The Doctor Who Wasn’t There: Technology, History, and the Limits of Telehealth, are both histories of technology and medicine that question the centrality of the expert as the deciding factor in the success or failure of medical technologies. In Zeavin’s book, the […]
Seeing and Unseeing

Seeing and Unseeing


To read these two brilliant books side by side is an exhilarating experience—they not only offer new historical and theoretical insights into the role of media in clinical care, but they point towards unique (and uniquely thorny) historiographic questions. For as these media wended their way through medical and therapeutic treatments, they also left peculiar […]
Media Medica

Media Medica


The origins of The Doctor Who Wasn’t There are inescapably tangled with The Distance Cure—tangled in cords of telephone wires. The telephone was both the subject and object and medium of our meeting. I had been noticing the iterative updates to the electronic health record in the community health center where I practiced, watching my […]
Protective Distance

Protective Distance


Letters always, according to Lacan, reach their destination. We all write with others, even or especially when we sit down to make work that is classified as a monograph, a site of supposedly individual effort.  What a particular honor then, to have the letter that is my book, The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy, […]
Navigating the Unreal: Virtual Reality in Psychiatric Treatment

Navigating the Unreal: Virtual Reality in Psychiatric Treatment


“Three men are constantly speaking to me behind my right ear,” says Pia Oxenvad, a young woman experiencing auditory hallucinations. “It feels like they are standing right behind me,” she explains, while indicating with her right hand precisely where the voices seem to be lurking.[1] To Pia, the voices are real, an experiential and always […]