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Conway Hall Ethical Society presents:

Ethical Matters:
Do I Have A Normal Mind?

2nd October 2022 · 3:00pm

Doors open: 2:45pm

Brockway Room | Virtual event

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Ethical Matters: Do I Have A Normal Mind?

Further Info

This event will be held with an in-person audience at Conway Hall and online via livestream. Everyone wishing to join this event must register for a ticket in advance.

If you have any accessibility enquiries, please contact us at info@conwayhall.org.uk / 020 7405 1818.

Before the nineteenth century, the term ‘normal’ was rarely associated with human behaviour. Normal was a term used in maths, for right angles. But from the 1830s, this strange branch of science really took off across Europe and North America, with a proliferation of IQ tests, sex studies, body measurements and even a UK beauty map (which concluded the women in Aberdeen were “the most repellent”).

Sarah Chaney tells the surprising history of how the very notion of the normal came about and how it shaped us all, often while entrenching oppressive, colonialist values. From the 1889 Census of Hallucinations through Theo Hyslop’s “Great Abnormals” to the sudden appearance of the claim that 1 in 4 of us experience a mental disorder in our lifetimes, the boundaries of the so-called normal mind have long been complicated. Sarah looks at why we’re still asking the internet if our minds are normal and challenges why we ever thought it might be a desirable thing to be.

Sarah is a historian of medicine and health, and an Honorary Research Fellow at Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions. She completed her PhD at UCL in 2013, focusing on self-injury in late Victorian asylums. Her new book Am I Normal? will be available on the day.

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