Psychopharmacology and the Self

Fredrik Svenaeus

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry

Published in print June 2013 | ISBN: 9780199579563
Published online September 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Psychopharmacology and the Self

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  • Psychology
  • History and Systems in Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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Psychopharmacological drugs have effects on selfhood in ways that often overlap with the treatment of mental disorders, but the effects also go beyond the domain of disorder into the sphere of enhancement. To what extent this is and will be the case depends, of course, on the definition and understanding of mental disorder. The psychotropic effects on selfhood can be mapped out by distinguishing groups of traits that belong to personality and that form dimensions of selfhood, but they can also be distinguished by acknowledging different layers of selfhood-pre-reflective embodied self, reflective self, and narrative self. The effects of psychopharmacological drugs in some cases normalize the alienating experiences of the breakdown of pre-reflective selfhood, in other cases they rather bring about changes in basic dimensions of selfhood and personality, such as temperament and emotional dispositions.

Keywords: psychopharmacology; selfhood; personality; mental disorder; phenomenology; enhancement; embodiment; narrative; temperament; antidepressants

Article.  7944 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Social Psychology

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