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Scholar spotlight on Dr Charlotte Blease and Prof Allan Peterkin

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Scholar spotlight is a new feature in Medical Humanities which focuses on individuals and explores their careers and experiences in the field of medical humanities.

Dr Charlotte Blease, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Humanities, University of Leeds

What is your current role and what are you working on at the moment?

My current position is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Medical Humanities, Humanities Research Institute, University of Leeds. I am also Research Affiliate at the Program in Placebo Studies, Harvard Medical School.

My research is currently focused on the role of the placebo effect in psychotherapy. My main interest is in understanding how the placebo concept applies to psychotherapy, and what ethical repercussions this has for psychotherapy training and education and for clinical ethics. This brings together philosophy of science, psychotherapy research and clinical ethics. I am very driven by research that identifies and solves real-world problems.

How did you become interested in the health humanities?

My research in the health humanities emerged during my PhD, but I can probably track it back to my schooldays. I dabbled briefly with the idea of medicine at school, but was thwarted by the bottleneck of A-level choices and the inevitable ‘arts’ versus ‘sciences’ junction. Ignoring the advice of my teachers, my choices spanned both, and after false starts with a biology degree, and fine art, I lit on philosophy. My PhD was in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, and my interest in philosophy of medicine and philosophy of psychiatry arose from this training. I became engrossed in such questions as: Is medicine an art? Is psychiatry a science? How do we classify mental disorders? How should we classify them? These kinds of questions hooked me in.

What path did you take to your current role?

My research path has been colourful (I think!). It started with a PhD at Queen's University Belfast followed by teaching philosophy at Queen's for 5 years, while also teaching philosophy in schools, and to adult learners. Then in 2013 I had a short Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre …

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