Courtney Sommer


PhD Researcher in Sociology (ESRC 1+3)
Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter

Start date: September 2018

Research topic: Issues of ideology and legitimacy in Evidence-Based Medicine and Psychiatry

My research explores the history and function(s) of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), focussing specifically on the impact of EBM on psychiatry and mental health policymaking. I will be doing so by exploring the ongoing periods of consultation in response to the NICE Guideline on Depression in Adults. The purpose of the project is to push thinking on EBM beyond methodological considerations, to encompass its ideological and discursive functions. Key questions I am asking myself are: What gets to count as evidence? What does it mean to be evidence-based? Why is it better to be evidence-based than not? What is the relationship between EBM and diagnostic psychiatry? I am particularly interested in the history of psychiatry, scientific authority, sociology of health and illness, mad studies, and feminist epistemology.

Research supervisors: Dr Hannah Farrimond, Dr Angela Cassidy

Professional memberships/Positions held:

Co-founder of make space, a user-led collective creating spaces for more nuanced and generous conversations about self-harm (Twitter: @makespace_co)

Advisor to Action To Prevent Suicide, organisation providing trainings and awareness around suicide intervention/prevention.