Join the Department of Sociology for an insightful online seminar with Dr Hannah Zeavin.
Dr Hannah Zeavin is a Lecturer in the Departments of English and History at the University of California, Berkeley and is on the Executive Committee of the University of California at Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society and on the Executive Committee of the Berkeley Center for New Media. Additionally, she is a visiting fellow at the Columbia University Center for the Study of Social Difference.
Zeavin’s first book, The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy is now out from MIT Press, with a Foreword by John Durham Peters. She is at work on her second book, Mother’s Little Helpers: Technology in the American Family (MIT Press, 2023). Other work has appeared in or is forthcoming from differences, Dissent, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, n+1, Slate, Technology & Culture, The Washington Post, and beyond.
"Auto-Intimacy: Teletherapy by Algorithm" engages with therapeutic and psychiatric treatment by algorithmic automated therapies. I interrogate what therapy becomes when the traditional therapist is replaced by a computational actor. “Auto-Intimacy” opens with an overview of very early attempts to write a responsive algorithm which modeled a therapeutic relationship and addresses changes in automated therapy over the past fifty years. At the earliest moment of experimentation with automated therapies, two strains of work emerged: the simulation and detection of a disordered mind in the hopes of automating intake, diagnosis, and psychological education, and the simulation of a therapist toward the dream of automating therapeutic treatment. I will move to a brief discussion of the politics and “gamification” of contemporary psychological applications such as “Ellie” and “Joyable” and “iHelp,” which attempt to assist persons with a wide range of mental health disorders in managing their behaviour and moods. These applications, which are frequently offered by employers to employees, collapse the categories of wellness, stress, labor management, and mental health care.