Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 701–718 | Cite as

Getting stuck: temporal desituatedness in depression

  • Michelle MaieseEmail author


The DSM characterizes major depressive disorder partly in temporal terms: the depressive mood must last for at least two weeks, and also must impact the subject "most of the day, nearly every day." However, from the standpoint of phenomenological psychopathology, the long-lasting quality of the condition hardly captures the distinctiveness of depression. While the DSM refers to objective time as measured by clocks and calendars, what is especially striking about depression is the distortions to lived time that it involves. But is there any relation between a) these disruptions to temporal experience and b) the tendency for depressive symptoms to persist and endure? To explore the connection between lived time and objective time, I investigate the embodied and enactive nature of intentionality among subjects suffering from depression. What I call 'affective framing' is a spontaneous, pre-reflective way of filtering information that involves bodily attunement and allows subjects to focus their attention on what they feel is important. I will argue that affective framing ordinarily has a forward-looking temporal structure and a "teleological direction" that is rooted in our embodiment. However, depression involves a distortion in future-directed intentionality, so that a subject becomes temporally desituated and cut off from the future. This contributes to many of the characteristic features of depression, including apparent lack of motivation, inability to imagine future possibilities, alterations in lived time, and a sense that one is "stuck." To gain a better understanding of this disruption to the futuredirected structure of affective framing in cases of depression, I look to concepts from complex dynamic systems theory and the notion of 'habit.' My proposed account aims to shed light on how a disruption to future-directedness impacts bodily attunement and reinforces depression as a long-term condition.


Depression Time Future Intentionality Affect 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeBostonUSA

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