Subject: Ph.d. fellowship studying history of Asperger’s Syndrome

The proliferation of Asperger’s Syndrome

PhD Position at Theory & History of Psychology Section, Faculty of Behavioural & Social Sciences, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

Research grant for a student with a non-Dutch nationality (four years).

In the past decade the diagnosis Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) has proliferated spectacularly, mainly in the domains of child care, specialeducation and forensic psychiatry. Considering the importance of decisions made in the domain of education and forensic psychiatry, both personally and financially, it is of utmost relevance to understand the processes leading to this increase of AS-diagnoses. To this aim the envisioned PhD student will study the changing meaning of the label of AS from its introduction until the present.

As many psychiatric labels, AS is subject to a process identified by Ian Hacking as the “looping effect”: a label invites reactions of the persons so labeled and/or their caretakers, potentially changes their behaviour and hence the meaning of the label itself. This project asks which factors have brought about changes in the image of AS. For instance, the label of AS has undergone changes because of changing neuroscientific theories explaining the central deficits defining this disorder, such as “the male brain”, “weak central coherence” or “theory of mind”. However, not only science feeds the looping effect. General images of AS emerging from popular movies, (auto)biographies, blogs and novels help to constitute the effect as well. The present project is intended to investigate forces that shape the use and content of the label AS, both at micro-and macro-levels and preferably in forensic settings.

Job description:

– Perform empirical research employing psychological, philosophical andethnographic methods – Write a Ph.D.-thesis – The candidate willparticipate in the Netherlands Graduate School for Behavioural and SocialSciences as well as the European Neuroscience and Society Network (ENSN).

– The project will be supervised by dr Douwe Draaisma and dr Trudy Dehue.

Requirements of candidates:

– University graduate with a relevant master’s degree in for instance psychology, philosophy, sociology or anthropology.

– Proficiency in English, both in speaking and writing (at least TOEFL paper-based 580, computer-based 240, internet-based 95, or IELTS 6.5).

– Excellent writing skills Conditions of employment

The position is not open for candidates with the Dutch nationality. The university of Groningen offers a grant of 1583,-gross per month. The position will be on a temporary basis. After one year and after three years, formal assessments of performance will take place. If the outcome of the first assessment is positive, the position will be extended for three years.


To apply, please send a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, and a copy of a publication or master’s thesis to [email protected] or to J.M.Baan, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands.

The closing date for application is October 27, 2008.The interviews will take place in week 46, 2008.


For additional information please contact dr. Douwe Draaisma, at [email protected] or (+31 (0)50 363 6364, or dr. Trudy Dehue, at [email protected] or (+31 (0)50 363 6354, and or