Ethical, Legal & Clinical Implications of Neuroscience Research — 14-15 September 2017, Sydney, Australia
Academics and post-graduate students from Macquarie University, The University of Sydney and The University of Wollongong presented their research on Sydney Philosophy of Psychology, 2017.
The Philosophy Program and The Narrative Practices in Therapy Initiative, in the University of Wollongong, Australia, hosted a two-day workshop. The main topic of discussion were narrative approaches to health and illness, focusing on the subjective experience of well-being, and the ways in which illnesses and their treatments can impact on self-experience. Such accounts raise a variety of philosophical questions. To what extent can features of phenomenology and narrative be used to characterise different disorders? What problems do we face in relying on such first-person accounts, and what insights can we gain? Can such characterisations be integrated with naturalistic accounts of health and illness? How should we understand the role of phenomenology and narrative in treatment, as in narrative therapy?
Wednesday, February 22nd
13:00-14:30 Shaun Gallagher (Memphis/UOW), “Empathy: Pain, trial and tribulation”
14:30-15:30 Philip Gerrans (Adelaide), “Keeping reality at bay, the role of narrative in mental health”
16:00-17:00 Jeanette Kennett (Macquarie), “Narrative and agency in addiction”
Thursday, February 23rd
10:30-11:30 Marc Slors (Radboud), “Bodily continuity, narrative autobiographical coherence and therapy”
11:30-12:30 Dominic Murphy (Sydney), “Can the sea eagle make you sick?”
14:30-15:30 Jonathan Cole (Poole General Hospital, UK), “Narrative approaches to neurological impairment”
15:30-16:30 Roundtable discussion on the role of phenomenology and narrative in medicine: Claire Hooker (Sydney), Jonathan Cole (Poole General Hospital), Shaun Gallagher (Memphis/UOW)
Thanks professor Patrick McGivern for putting such a great event.
I am finally sitting down to write a paper I am for long aiming for. Hopefully, It will appear in a forthcoming book João Pereira and I are editing for Vernon Press. The basis ideia is to explore and attempt to overcome the fact that both the traditional and the contemporary understanding of schizophrenic condition manifest what one might call the two main tenets of neurobiological reductionism. The assumption, of an exclusively brain-to-mind direction of causality, implies that cultural or social factors can be no more than merely “pathoplastic” importance (see Kleinman, 1987; Sass, 1992, p. 358). While the assumption of lowered mental level implies that the subjectivity of such patients lacks real complexity and can readily be described in quantitative and pure deficit terms: as a mere dimming of diminishment of higher or more reflective forms of conscious life.
What seems problematic is the often unreflected-upon ways in which the underlying nature and experience of these symptoms are being conceptualized, and in which their pathogenic role is being conceived. Too often, psychiatric discussion of schizophrenia and culture has taken place in a kind of phenomenological and theoretical vacuum⎯ without careful consideration of the qualitative specificity of schizophrenic experience or a sufficiently focused and coordinated appreciation of the sociocultural order. Here we shall claim the importance of taking the patient’s subjective experience of the disorder into account ⎯ acknowledging the limitations of a reductive explanation of such experiential dimension, we should attempt to open an effective dialogue with psychopathology and the sociocultural environment, and the means by which the later affect the former. Cultural forms and practices, understood as “patterns of meanings embodied in symbols”, seem to set of control mechanisms guiding experience and behaviour within a certain culture. To partake this cultural framework means thus, to sense solidarity or trust in others, or to speak, think, and gesture with that easy synthesis of spontaneity and convention that identifies one as a member of a given social group. Such developments may have, thus, consequences on everyday cognitive functioning.
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was a well known Portuguese poet, who lived closely the industrial turn, and whose work is a valuable poetic contribution to the Futuristic poetry in Europe. As it is known, Pessoa was diagnosed with dementia praecox, and in his poetry, he indeed manifests the lived dilacerations of self-experience,
I don’t know how many souls I have.
I’ve changed at every moment.
I always feel like a stranger.
I’ve never seen or found myself.
From being so much, I have only soul.
A man who has soul has no calm.
A man who sees is just what he sees.
A man who feels is not who he is.
Through the heteronym phenomenon, Pessoa creates a plurality of biological narratives, that I shall explore, in the upcoming paper, to illustrate that our capacity to understand intentional actions in terms of reasons has a decidedly sociocultural basis.
The workshop highlights recent work on the philosophical consideration of schizophrenia, especially phenomenological approaches to schizophrenia and the Ipseity Disturbance Hypothesis (Nelson, Parnas, & Sass, 2014; Sass, Parnas, & Zahavi, 2011) (see also recent seminar).
All articles are to appear in the forthcoming volume: Hipólito, I., Gonçalves, J., & Pereira, J. (Eds.). (Forthcoming). Schizophrenia and Common Sense: Springer.
More info at the Lisbon Mind and Cognition Group.
Thanks to all the participants of our event, organized by Jorge Gonçalves, João G. Pereira and I, Schizophrenia and Common Sense, who made excellent contributions to the discussion of difficult questions in todays philosophy of psychopathology, for instance,
how relevant is the loss of common sense in schizophrenia?
How can the study of schizophrenia contribute to the study of common sense?
How to understand/explain/interpret this loss of common sense?
What is the relationship of practical reasoning and logical formal reasoning with schizophrenia?
What is the relationship between the person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and social values?
Now let's work hard on the follow up book, to be issued by Springer, Studies in Mind Brain.
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