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Healthcare & Humanity Reading Series: Examining Diagnosis & Identity with Rachel Aviv

September 26, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

The Healthcare and Humanity Reading Series returns with best-selling author Rachel Aviv! Curated by bestselling author Theresa Brown, R.N. (Healing: When a Nurse Becomes a Patient) and presented in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law, this series features authors whose work explores inequities in the US healthcare system. September’s program centers on Rachel’s book Strangers to Ourselves, which will celebrate the release of its paperback edition on September 19. 

In Strangers to Ourselves, Rachel offers a groundbreaking exploration of mental illness and the mind, and illuminates the startling connections between diagnosis and identity. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Rachel writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. She follows an Indian woman celebrated as a saint who lives in healing temples in Kerala; an incarcerated mother vying for her children’s forgiveness after recovering from psychosis; a man who devotes his life to seeking revenge upon his psychoanalysts; and an affluent young woman who, after a decade of defining herself through her diagnosis, decides to go off her meds because she doesn’t know who she is without them. Animated by a profound sense of empathy, Rachel’s gripping exploration is refracted through her own account of living in a hospital ward at the age of six. Challenging the way we understand and talk about illness, her account is a testament to the porousness and resilience of the mind.

This reading is followed by a moderated conversation with Theresa Brown, an audience Q&A, and a book signing. You can purchase your own copy of Rachel’s book, Strangers to Ourselves, at City of Asylum Bookstore.

Don’t miss the creative workshop with Theresa, Reshaping The Stories That Make Us, on September 27th!

About the Author:

Rachel Aviv (she/her) is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she writes about medicine, education, criminal justice, and other subjects. In 2022, she won a National Magazine Award for Profile Writing. A 2019 national fellow at New America, she received a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant to support her work on Strangers to Ourselves. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About the Moderator:

Theresa Brown, PhD, BSN, RN, is a nurse and best-selling author who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her third book, Healing: When a Nurse Becomes a Patient, was released April 2022. It explores her diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer in the context of her own nursing work. Theresa has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times and her writing has appeared on CNN.com, and in The American Journal of Nursing, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Theresa has been a guest on MSNBC Live and NPR’s Fresh Air. Theresa has a BSN from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in English from the University of Chicago. She lectures nationally and internationally on issues related to nursing, health care, and end of life. Becoming a mom led Theresa to leave academia and pursue nursing. It is a career change she has never regretted.

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed, but a cash wine bar will be available.

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September 26, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Program Category:


Pittsburgh,PAUnited States

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