Chapter

Understanding existential changes in psychiatric illness: The indispensability of phenomenology

Matthew Ratcliffe

in Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238033
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754562 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199238033.003.0013

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Understanding existential changes in psychiatric illness: The indispensability of phenomenology

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This chapter argues that phenomenological reflection is indispensable when it comes to interpreting at least some psychiatric conditions. I distinguish ‘phenomenological’ from ‘psychological’ and ‘personal’ understanding. For the phenomenologist, a background sense of reality that is presupposed by both psychological and personal understanding is itself an object of enquiry. As many of the experiential changes reported in psychiatric illness involve alterations in the sense of reality, a ‘phenomenological stance’ is required in order to understand them. To illustrate this point, I discuss some of the existential changes (by which I mean alterations in the sense of reality and belonging) that can occur in depression. The remainder of the chapter addresses the relationship between phenomenology and neuroscience, and shows how interaction between these disciplines can be mutually illuminating.

Chapter.  11343 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry ; Clinical Neuroscience

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