Madness and Mental Health: 2023-4

The Person in Psychiatry: An Ecohumanist, Enactive Approach

This lecture in the series Madness and Mental Health is presented by Sanneke de Haan.

What is mental health? Can we make sense of psychosis? What’s the connection between mental health and concepts including race & evolution? Explore these questions, among others, through the lens of philosophy at the 2023/4 London Lectures.

The person in psychiatry: an ecohumanist, enactive approach

Many people suffer from psychiatric disorders and mental distress, yet much is still unclear – both regarding how to understand these problems and how to best treat them. Starting from an enactive, ecohumanist approach, I argue that taking people’s experiences seriously require us to look at their developmental history, the role of the specific sociocultural practices one takes part in, and, finally, to take one’s existential (self)understanding into account. Instead of assuming an individualistic approach, a focus on the person in psychiatry rather reveals the need to take their context – broadly understood – into account. This fits with holistic, personalized approaches to treatment. It also implies that psychiatry may need to become more societally and/or politically engaged.

  • About the speaker

    Sanneke de Haan is Socrates Professor of Psychiatry and Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Assistant Professor Clinical Bioethics at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University. She works on topics at the intersection of philosophy and psychiatry. Her current research project focusses on so-called self-illness ambiguity for patients with recurrent depressions, and the development of a notion of relational authenticity. Her book on Enactive Psychiatry was published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press.