Cars and Control

How a Model of Individual Responsibility Replaced Disqualification for Epileptic Drivers in Postwar America
Friday, Apr 22, 2016 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

22 April 2016 (Friday) 1:30 pm

Rachel Elder, PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA Center for Social Medicine and the Humanities)

"Cars and Control: How a Model of Individual Responsibility Replaced Disqualification for Epileptic Drivers in Postwar America"

Location: History and Special Collections for the Sciences, located on the 4th floor of the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 12-077 Center for Health Sciences

This talk will explore how seizure-prone individuals became eligible to drive in the United States after 1949.  Whereas the development of anticonvulsant drugs has typically explained the extension of such privileges in the postwar era, this paper will suggest that the licensing of epileptic drivers chiefly articulated new types of responsibility and risk.  Placing subjective measures such as the "reliability" of applicants above conventional metrics of pharmaceutical seizure control, medical review boards demonstrated that the primary danger of the epileptic driver was not some intrinsic quality of the seizure-prone body or its potential for accident, but rather its institutional invisibility to doctor and state.

Coffee and light refreshments will be available for attendees who confirm before 9:00am on Tuesday, April 19th, when we place the catering order. (Please be advised that we require reservations because of university policy; we must submit a list of confirmed attendees when placing our catering order.)

Seating is limited; reservations are REQUIRED. Please RSVP to reserve if you plan on attending. There may not be seating available for drop-ins on the day of the forum.

Reservations may be made by contacting History & Special Collections for the Sciences (voice: 310.825.6940; email: speccoll-medsci@library.ucla.edu).

This UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum (this is the 34th meeting of the series) is made possible by the History & Social Studies of Medicine Program, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and by History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Library Special Collections.