Symposium: Self-Knowledge in and out of Illness — Video links below

3 May 2016 - 4 May 2016 - 09:00-17:30

Self-knowledge has always played a role in health care since a person needs to be able to accurately assess her body or behaviour in order to determine whether to seek medical help. But more recently it has come to play a larger role, as health care has moved from a more paternalistic model to one where the patient is expected to take charge of her health; as we realized that early detection, and hence self-examination, can play a crucial role in outcomes; as medical science improves and makes more terminal illnesses into chronic conditions requiring self-management; as genetic testing makes it possible to have more information about our futures; and with the advent of personal electronic devices that make it easy for a person to gather accurate real-time information about her body.

It can be hard to get good information about oneself, and even harder to know what to do it. Sometimes self-knowledge is needed for a good outcome, but sometimes it is useless, or worse. Breast self-examination can lead to over-treatment, learning that one has a predisposing gene can create a detrimental illusion of knowing more about the future than one does, and data about one’s vital signs can be meaningless if taken out of a context of interpretation. We look at how these and other issues play out in a variety of medical contexts.

In conjunction with the Symposium, the Palgrave Communications journal will publish a special issue based on the same topic. More details and the Call for Papers can be found at:

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Abstracts PDF

3 May – Greenwood Lecture Theatre

Morning: 9:00-12:30

Welcome: Stuart Carney, Dean of the GKT School of Medical Education
Introduction: Sherri Roush, Peter Sowerby Chair in Philosophy and Medicine (Video)

Chair: Gareth Owen, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Tony David, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Self-Reflection in illness and health – literal and metaphorical? (Video)

Nick Shea, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Metacognition for acting and deciding together (Video)

Fiona Johnson, University College London

Self-Perception of Weight: Is a little knowledge a dangerous thing? (Video)

Matthew Hotopf, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Big data, Big Brother and the internet of things: the challenges of implementing mobile health (Video)


Afternoon: 2:30-5:30 – followed by reception

Chair: Sherri Roush, King’s College London

Fiona Cowdell and Judith Dyson, University of Hull

Skin Self-examination (Video)

Quassim Cassam, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick

Self-knowledge in Diagnosis and Self-Diagnosis (handout) (Video)

Paul Norman, University of Sheffield

Psychological aspects of Breast Self-examination (Video)

Reception: 5:30

4 May 2016 – Harris Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building

Morning: 9:00 – 12:00

Introduction: Simon Howell, Dean of Biomedical Sciences

Chair: Abdi Sanati, Consultant Inpatient Psychiatrist, North East London NHS Foundation Trust

Christine Patch, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals

Genetic Testing and Screening: tales from the real world (Video)

Sherri Roush, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Hypochondria and self-recalibration (Video)

Sacha Golob, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Self-Cultivation and Self-Knowing: Knowledge as Style (Video)


Afternoon: 2:00-5:00

Chair: Sacha Golob, Department of Philosophy, KCL

Veronika Williams, University of Oxford

“I just know” – experiences of self-managing acute exacerbations in COPD (Video)

Havi Carel, University of Bristol

What kind of knowledge can illness promote? (Video)

Tim Holt, University of Oxford

Sailing close to the wind: models and metaphors for the self-management of diabetes (Video)


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