Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity

k7674

By showing us the human brain at work, PET (positron emission tomography) scans are subtly–and sometimes not so subtly–transforming how we think about our minds. Picturing Personhood follows this remarkable and expensive technology from the laboratory into the world and back. It examines how PET scans are created and how they are being called on to answer myriad questions with far-reaching implications: Is depression an observable brain disease? Are criminals insane? Do men and women think differently? Is rationality a function of the brain?

Based on interviews, media analysis, and participant observation at research labs and conferences, Joseph Dumit analyzes how assumptions designed into and read out of the experimental process reinforce specific notions about human nature. Such assumptions can enter the process at any turn, from selecting subjects and mathematical models to deciding which images to publish and how to color them. Once they leave the laboratory, PET scans shape social debates, influence courtroom outcomes, and have positive and negative consequences for people suffering mental illness. Dumit follows this complex story, demonstrating how brain scans, as scientific objects, contribute to our increasing social dependence on scientific authority.

The first book to examine the cultural ramifications of brain-imaging technology, Picturing Personhood is an unprecedented study that will influence both cultural studies and the growing field of science and technology studies.

Picturing Personhood at Princeton University Press

Series: In-Formation

(Reviewed in American Anthropologist; Annual Review of Anthropology; Bulletin of the History of Medicine; Current Anthropology; Lancet Neurology; Medical Anthropology Quarterly; Science; Science, Technology & Human Values; Theory & Psychology).

--

2004

Dumit, Joseph. 2004. Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity, Princeton University Press.

--

»5 Essential Tips for Getting a Grant

grants-money

These tips are aimed primarily at interdisciplinary researchers in the social sciences & humanities, but will hopefully be helpful for many others. They are based on years of sitting on grant panels, reading over a thousand grants, discussions and tips from colleagues about their experiences, and lots of presentations at STS camp and proposal writing Continue reading…

+
-

»When Explanations Rest

Chronic Fatigue CFS 4

“Good-Enough” Brain Science and the New Socio-Medical Disorders. Published in in Living and Working with the New Biomedical Technologies: Intersections of Inquiry, eds. Margaret Lock, Allan Young and Alberto Cambrosio. Explanations come to an end somewhere. – Wittgenstein Wittgenstein’s opening to Philosophical Investigations points to a funda­ mental crisis in scientific and medical research: When is there enough Continue reading…

+
-

»Drugs for Life

DrugsForLife-Dumit-Cover-rev

How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health (2012 Duke University Press) Kindle version is now out! Hear my radio interview about Drugs for Life on BBC 4 Thinking Allowed Every year the average number of prescriptions purchased by Americans increases, as do healthcare expenditures, which are projected to reach one-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product Continue reading…

+
-