Wednesday 1 January 2014

Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers. 11. Hersilie Rouy. Susannah Wilson conducts Inner Circle Seminar 200 (16 February 2014)

Hersilie Rouy

Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers

11. Hersilie Rouy

Susannah Wilson
Inner Circle Seminar No. 200
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 16 February 2014
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hersilie Rouy, in Mémoires d'une aliénée (1883), describes her incarceration in French asylums from 1854 until 1868 and how this came about. She insisted that she was ‘sane’, and after many years won her legal case against those who had imprisoned her. Susannah Wilson, a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Warwick, in her book Voices from the Asylum: Four French Women Writers, 1850–1920 (2010), writes: ‘in the asylum...the vestiges of [Rouy’s] fragile sense of identity were systematically obliterated by the pathologizing methods of alienist medicine.’ She will analyse how Rouy’s ‘rhetorical energy is successfully deployed in order to subvert and undermine the hegemony of the authoritative discourse of psychiatry’. Susannah Wilson herself subverts and undermines this hegemony.  She will discuss the secondary literature on Rouy’s book, including Jeffrey Masson’s account in Against Therapy (1989). She will argue that most of this literature tries to ‘prove’ Rouy’s own contention that she was ‘sane’, often by ignoring her wilder assertions; it thus colludes with the implication that, had she not been ‘sane’, then her incarceration and invalidation would have been justified. Those who attended her Inner Circle Seminar on Camille Claudel will know how skilfully Susannah Wilson makes sense of ‘voices from the asylum’ and of the social interactions that led to remarkable women like Claudel and Rouy being locked up. Your contribution to the discussion will be welcome.

Venue:  ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail:
For further information on seminars, visit:
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

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