The Wellcome Trust has awarded two ambitious, five-year research projects as the first of its Humanities and Social Science Collaborative Awards. 'Hearing the Voice' and 'Living with Feeling' will explore crucial areas of health and experience, aided by the unique insights of the humanities and social sciences.
Building on the success of three years of previous Wellcome Trust funding, 'Hearing the Voice' (Durham University), an interdisciplinary study into voice-hearing led by Professor Charles Fernyhough (PI) and Dr Angela Woods, will extend their research into a number of new and exciting areas. Drawing on many fields, including cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, psychology and psychiatry, the project will deeply investigate the experience of hearing voices, incorporating a range of topics such as the importance of memory and trauma, the relationship between voices and creativity and the sensory quality of voices. The new award will allow the researchers to continue their work with local clinicians, mental health professionals, voice-hearers and other 'experts by experience'. The project also includes an ambitious programme of public engagement aimed at improving public understanding of voice-hearing and dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions that surround this experience.
The Centre for the History of the Emotions (Queen Mary, University of London) has been given an award for 'Living with Feeling'. Led by Dr Thomas Dixon, the study will explore how scientists, doctors, philosophers, and politicians – past and present – have engaged with human emotions, treating them variously as causes or symptoms of illness or health, or even as aspects of medical treatment. It will explore how ideas about emotional health have changed over time, and what we can learn about managing, channelling and cultivating our emotions from historical predecessors. Research topics will include: the use of the passions as medical treatments; the anatomy of anger as a modern emotion; relationships between religious, philosophical and scientific forms of therapy; time-management and de-cluttering as emotional technologies; the rise of the psychologist parent; and the roles of imitation, contagion, and mirror neurons in emotional health.
Dan O’Connor, Head of Humanities and Social Science at the Wellcome Trust, added: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to support these two genuinely innovative and exciting research visions. These are some of the largest research awards ever made to the humanities in the UK, almost unique in their scale and scope. Both hold out the promise of making genuinely ground breaking changes in both our understanding of, and approaches to, the diverse spectrum of human experience. We hope that 'Hearing the Voice' and 'Living with Feeling' are just the first of many Collaborative Awards that bring together researchers from across the academy to transform lives and improve health."
The Humanities and Social Science Collaborative Awards have been established to provide flexible support to excellent research groups with outstanding track records, looking into important, complex health-related questions in the humanities and social sciences that require a collaborative team effort.