This is the third in our new series ProfFile: informal interviews with leading or under recognized critical health psychologists. This month’s ProfFile is with Professor Wendy Stainton-Rogers, who is based in Yorkshire, UK. A key organizer of ISCHP, Wendy has blazed a trail for many of us working in critical health, social and feminist psychology.
What is your current position?
I’m now retired but still a ‘Professor Emerita’ at the Open University in the UK. However, it’s rather more complicated than that.
Less than a month after my retirement in September 2011 I had to have a biopsy to see if I had developed cancer. This small procedure went catastrophically wrong and I was very ill for several years with the aftermath. As I write, five years later, yes I do have cancer, but not the aggressive one first diagnosed. It affects me but I am much recovered from what happened (more surgical catastrophes and two periods of acute starvation). Over this time I had most of my gut removed (hence the malnutrition). So these days I am IV fed by tube, pumped in for 11 hours overnight. I can’t eat at all, but can cook, so all is not lost.
It was what you might call a severe case of participant-observer experience! I have been encouraged to write about it, and maybe I will, given time. In sociological terms, these days I’m a bit of a cyborg with a tube sticking out of me and have a Klingon carapace stuck on my abdomen, so I do see myself as very alien and disfigured. Becoming disabled has been a truly salutary experience. I am out of a wheelchair now but have an intimate knowledge of the bowels of Leeds Beckett university’s (in Leeds, UK) rather laberynthine arrangements for access.
The good news is that I am getting better and now active academically once again. This year I’ve been to some seminars and the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Women Section (POWS) conference, and am currently working hard on editing the second edition of the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology, together with Carla Willig. I’m keenly looking forward to attending the ISCHP conference in 2017, and even thinking of making some kind of contribution.