The Phenomenological Aspects of Mental Disorders

  • Piotr Mróz
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 64)


The purpose of this paper is to present the principal features of an “existential phenomenology” represented by Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This philosophical trend (one cannot refer to it as a system with a complete, definite nature), which gained enormous popularity in the late forties and early fifties of this century, seems to have exerted a great influence on the emergence of a new kind of psychiatry. The “humanist outbreak”1 (to use Sasz’s term) is closely linked to the theory of the human project and “the desire to be”.2 We are of the opinion that the description as well as the analysis of human consciousness — propounded by Sartre and to some extent by Merleau-Ponty — helped to bring about substantial changes and transformations in so far as the attitude towards “deranged people” was concerned, closely following Brentano’s “axiom” concerning the nature of conscious acts, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty promptly accepted the advanced forms of phenomenology taught and studied under Edmund Husserl. For new followers such as the French group, it appeared evident that acts of awareness must — by their nature — “have” an object.


General Project Intentional Object Human Consciousness Perceptive Consciousness Phenomenological Aspect 
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  1. 1.
    This term is often used in Laing’s and Sasz’s works; see for example, Psychiatry, Anti-Psychiatry Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness,New York, 1981, p. 542.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Sens et non-sens,Paris, 1968, p. 42.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Jean-Paul Sartre, Imagination,Paris, 1980, pp. 150-152.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Jean-Paul Sartre, Beingchrww(133),op. cit., p. 390.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., p. 90.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement,The Hague, 1969, chapter on Sartre.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
  9. 9.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, Beingchrww(133),op. cit., p. 490.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    We refer to the studies of Genet and Baudelaire as interpreted by Sartrean existential psychoanalysis.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    This is the fragment of a letter written to his mother from the boarding school his stepfather had sent him to.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See Jean-Paul Sartre, Baudelaire,op. cit., p. 50.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    We refer here to the famous conception formulated by Sartre in his L’Imaginaire.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piotr Mróz
    • 1
  1. 1.Jagellonian UniversityPoland

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