Social Theory & Health

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 140–157 | Cite as

Mental health, subjectivities and forms of neuroscience: a critical realist examination

  • David PilgrimEmail author
Original Article


The examination of personal experience in human science has been highly variegated. At one end of a spectrum, strong subjectivists prioritise and privilege personal experience as an authentic marker of being human and as a window into our embedding social contexts. At the other end are neuro-reductionists, who explain (or even explain away) personal experience as merely an epiphenomenon of brain activity. With a focus on mental health and psychiatry, critical realism is used to explore this spectrum and it endorses a view that the brain affords our capacity to think, feel and act as human agents in contingent contexts but cannot ultimately explain any of these.


Neuroscience Subjectivities Critical realism Biopsychosocial model 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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