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Lévy Benjamin

PhD student in History of Science and Clinical Psychology, Paris Descartes University

Contact: benjamin.levy(at)outlook.fr

Dissertation title: Genesis, evolution, and relevance of the concept of paranoid delusions: An epistemological, cultural, and clinical approach

Under the supervision of Pierre-Henri Castel, Paris-5 Descartes University and the joint supervision of Alain Vanier, Paris-7 Diderot University

The correlative goal of this research will be to gain better understanding of how certain cultural, political, and social factors continue to influence our ways of conceiving and describing mental illness. Accordingly, a field investigation will enable us to question the contemporary ways of describing the category of "delusional revendication" (delusional claims) in France, Germany, and the Anglo-Saxon countries. We plan to meet with experts in the field of psychiatry as well as with members of legal staff (facing what is known as "querulous paranoia", or "vexatious litigants") in order to study the institutional dynamics that model and determine the ways of describing behavior qualified as pathological.

Our research, which also falls under clinical psychology, will make it possible to give it a practical grounding in medical-social institutions, medical-psychological institutions, and psychiatric institutions. We will thus ultimately be brought to reopen the following questions: Can paranoid delusions be regarded as autonomous entities (distinct from schizophrenic and dissociative disorders)? If so, what is the exact nature of the mechanisms by which they can be singled out? And how does the influence of institutions, psychiatric and legal, determine the way they are presented?

Keywords: Paranoid Delusions, Epistemology, History of Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology, Sociology of Psychiatry

Links: Chronological bibliography on the concepts studied in my Dissertation (paranoid delusions and querulous paranoia)