When Philosophy Meets Psychiatry

Dr. Jacqueline Owen said that the talk offered a new way to think about a problem she often encountered in her work. “I’m on a ward with teenagers — boys and girls — who complain of hearing voices,” she said. “So how do I discriminate between the ones who are really having hallucinations and those who are just listening to their own thoughts? Perhaps what we need to do is step back and think about what they are experiencing in the first place. Philosophy can provide a way into that — something that isn’t a gene, or a drug, but that can still be useful.”

“Psychiatry crosses domains,” Dr. Gareth Owen said. “So it is important that the people who do it can cross domains as well. Our aim with the seminar is to provide a kind of third space — outside academic psychiatry or clinical practice or academic philosophy.”

“It gives the philosophers a chance to get out into the world a bit,” he continued. “And I’ve found it helps me both in my research and in my clinical practice. It’s a way of reminding myself to keep the whole patient in mind.”

By D. D. Guttenplan, The New York Times

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