Advertisement

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 97–116 | Cite as

A critical perspective on second-order empathy in understanding psychopathology: phenomenology and ethics

  • Mohammed Abouelleil RashedEmail author
Article

Abstract

The centenary of Karl Jaspers' General Psychopathology was recognised in 2013 with the publication of a volume of essays dedicated to his work (edited by Stanghellini and Fuchs). Leading phenomenological-psychopathologists and philosophers of psychiatry examined Jaspers notion of empathic understanding and his declaration that certain schizophrenic phenomena are ‘un-understandable’. The consensus reached by the authors was that Jaspers operated with a narrow conception of phenomenology and empathy and that schizophrenic phenomena can be understood through what they variously called second-order and radical empathy. This article offers a critical examination of the second-order empathic stance along phenomenological and ethical lines. It asks: (1) Is second-order empathy (phenomenologically) possible? (2) Is the second-order empathic stance an ethically acceptable attitude towards persons diagnosed with schizophrenia? I argue that second-order empathy is an incoherent method that cannot be realised. Further, the attitude promoted by this method is ethically problematic insofar as the emphasis placed on radical otherness disinvests persons diagnosed with schizophrenia from a fair chance to participate in the public construction of their identity and, hence, to redress traditional symbolic injustices.

Keywords

Radical empathy Schizophrenia Phenomenological reduction Incomprehensibility Social justice Karl Jaspers Edmund Husserl 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work is based on research supported by the National Research Foundation (UID: 91245).

References

  1. 1.
    Stanghellini, G., and T. Fuchs (eds.). 2013. One century of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jaspers, K. 1963. General psychopathology. 7th ed. Trans. J. Hoenig and M.W. Hamilton. Manchester: University of Manchester Press.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Maher, B.A. 1999. Anomalous experience in everyday life: Its significance for psychopathology. Monist 82: 547–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Davies, M., and M. Coltheart. 2000. Introduction: Pathologies of belief. In Pathologies of belief, ed. M. Davies, and M. Coltheart, 1–46. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Campbell, J. 2001. Rationality, meaning, and the analysis of delusion. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8: 89–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Thornton, T. 2008. Why the idea of framework propositions cannot contribute to an understanding of delusions. Phenomenology and Cognitive Science 7: 159–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Thornton, T. 2007. Essential philosophy of psychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Stanghellini, G. 2004. Disembodied spirits and deanimated bodies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bolton, D., and J. Hill. 2003. Mind, meaning and mental disorder: The nature of causal explanation in psychology and psychiatry, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Berrios, G. 1991. Delusions as “wrong beliefs”: A conceptual history. British Journal of Psychiatry 159(14): 6–13.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Heinimaa, H. 2003. Incomprehensibility. In Nature and narrative: An introduction to the new philosophy of psychiatry, ed. B. Fulford, K. Morris, J. Sadler, and G. Stanghellini, 217–230. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Husserl, E. 1982. Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy. Trans. F. Kersten. London: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Husserl, E. 1970. The crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology: An introduction to phenomenological philosophy. Trans. D. Carr. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Doerr-Zegers, O., and H. Pelegrina-Cetran. 2013. Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology in the framework of clinical practice. In One century of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology, ed. G. Stanghellini, and T. Fuchs, 57–75. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sass, L. 2013. Jaspers, phenomenology, and the ‘ontological difference’. In One century of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology, ed. G. Stanghellini, and T. Fuchs, 95–106. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ratcliffe, M. 2013. Delusional atmosphere and the sense of unreality. In One century of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology, ed. G. Stanghellini, and T. Fuchs, 229–244. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Stanghellini, G. 2013. The ethics of incomprehensibility. In One century of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology, ed. G. Stanghellini, and T. Fuchs, 166–181. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ratcliffe, M. 2012. Phenomenology as a form of empathy. Inquiry 55(5): 473–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Henriksen, M. 2013. On incomprehensibility in schizophrenia. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12: 105–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Stanghellini, G. 2013. Philosophical resources for the psychiatric interview. In The Oxford handbook of philosophy and psychiatry, ed. K. Fulford, M. Davies, R. Gipps, G. Graham, J. Sadlar, G. Stanghellini, and T. Thornton, 321–356. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    McKenna, W. 1982. Husserl’s ‘introductions to phenomenology’: interpretation and critique. Phaenomenologica 89. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Dodd, J. 2004. Crisis and reflection: an essay on Husserl’s Crisis of European Sciences. Phaenomenologica 174. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Merleau-Ponty, M. 1962. Phenomenology of perception. Trans. C. Smith. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Zaner, R. 1964. The problem of embodiment: Some contributions to a phenomenology of the body. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Smith, J. 2005. Merleau-Ponty and the phenomenological reduction. Inquiry 48(6): 553–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Radden, J. 2012. Recognition rights, mental health consumers and reconstructive cultural semantics. Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine 7(6): 1–8.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Fraser, N. 1995. From redistribution to recognition: Dilemmas of justice in a ‘post-socialist’ age. New Left Law Review 212: 68–93.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Taylor, C. 1994. The politics of recognition. In Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition, ed. A. Gutmann. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fraser, N., and A. Honneth. 2003. Redistribution or recognition? A political–philosophical exchange. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Dellar, R., T. Curtis, and E. Leslie. 2003. Mad pride: A celebration of mad culture. Truro: Chipmunka.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Corstens, D., S. Escher, and M. Romme. 2009. Accepting and working with voices: The Maastricht approach. In Psychosis, trauma and dissociation: Emerging perspectives on severe psychopathology, ed. A. Moskowitz, I. Schafer, and M.J. Dorahy. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Sass, L. 2003. Self-disturbance in schizophrenia: Hyper-reflexivity and diminished self-affection. In The self in neuroscience and psychiatry, ed. T. Kircher, and A. David, 242–271. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Spiegelberg, H. 1974. Epoché without reduction: Some replies to my critics. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 5: 256–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Fink, E. 1995. Sixth Cartesian meditation: The idea of a transcendental theory of method. Trans. R. Bruzina. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Luft, S. 2004. Husserl’s theory of the phenomenological reduction: Between life-world and cartesianism. Research in Phenomenology 34: 198–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Schrader, S., N. Jones, and M. Shattell. 2013. Mad pride: Reflections on sociopolitical identity and mental diversity in the context of culturally competent psychiatric care. Issues in Mental Health Nursing 34: 62–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Philosophy and Ethics of Mental HealthUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations