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Lucire, Yolande

LUCIRE, Yolande

PERSONAL: Female. Education: Earned B.S. and M.B. (Sydney, Australia); earned D.P.M. (London, England); University of New South Wales, Sydney, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—University of New South Wales, Albury Wodonga Campus, P.O. Box 3004, Albury, New South Wales 2640, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Forensic psychiatrist. University of New South Wales, Albury Wodonga Campus, Albury, New South Wales, Australia, senior lecturer.

MEMBER: Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists, Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences, Medico Legal Society, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (fellow).


Constructing RSI: Belief and Desire, University of New South Wales Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Contributor of articles to journals, including Medical Journal of Australia, Journal of Community Health Studies, Australian Institute of Management Journal, Forensic Psychiatry Bulletin, and Journal of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences.

SIDELIGHTS: A forensic psychiatrist whose wide-ranging field of expertise encompasses insurance law, criminality, epidemic hysteria, epidemic somatization, and moral panics, Yolande Lucire is a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales and provides expertise in both civil and criminal litigation. She is also the author of Constructing RSI: Belief and Desire, a book distilled from her doctoral thesis, the central message of which is that the experience and presentation of physical symptoms can be influenced by cultural change.

The pandemic of RSI, or repetitive strain injury, began in the 1980s and became prevalent in Australia in 1982 when the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council endorsed a guide to an emerging new category of injuries apparently caused by rapid repetitive movements and overuse of muscles at work. In her book, Lucire traces the emergence of the diagnosis of RSI from writer's cramp through carpal tunnel syndrome and the subsequent confusion in the medical community over a phenomenon that apparently has neither obvious organic origin nor a completely effective cure. According to Lucire, conditions such as RSI are diseases of perception caused either by psychological factors, such as anxiety, that are experienced as physical symptoms or by cultural factors under which an individual experiencing a common symptom becomes influenced by what is happening in the world at large. She maintains that the diagnosis of RSI is based on "junk" science and has been established by what Peter Croft of the British Medical Journal described as "an alliance of doctors and union officials in the context of concern about working conditions and the new technology of the computer keyboard, but in the absence of any scientific basis for the existence of the disease itself."

Anulla Linders of the American Journal of Sociology said that while the story of RSI is well worth telling, "this is an unfortunate book. Disguised as a disinterested analysis of the social construction of repetitive strain injury . . . the book reveals itself as a product of a turf war, with the author at the losing end of a battle over the professional ownership of RSI." However, in his favorable review for the Journal of the American Medical Association, George E. Ehrlich wrote that Constructing RSI: "serves as a well-documented indictment of gullible judges, venal trial lawyers, physicians, union leaders, and others who rely on hypotheses rather than on evidence and who have institutionalized error and false belief resulting in enormous expense, convincing claimants that they are sick and that their sickness resulted from their work experiences."



American Journal of Sociology, May, 2004, Anulla Linders, review of Constructing RSI: Belief and Desire, p. 1537.

British Medical Journal, February 7, 2004, Peter Croft, review of Constructing RSI, p. 354.

Journal of the American Medical Association, July 21, 2004, George E. Ehrlich, review of Constructing RSI, p. 386.


Stuff Web site, (September 13, 2004), Amanda Spratt, "RSI, OOS [Occupational Overuse Syndrome] 'Does Not Exist and Never Did Exist.'"

Yolande Lucire Home Page, (September 28, 2004).*

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