Archive for the ‘Philosophy of Psychiatry’ Category
Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry: Overcoming Mind-Brain Dualism in 21st Century Medicine
21-22, November 2014
Center for Philosophy of Science, 817 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA USA 15260
Notification By: July 7, 2014
Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions and comments, contact Serife Tekin, email@example.com
Summary: The goal of this conference is to address the crisis in psychiatric research and treatment by exploring the ways in which the mind-brain dualism can be overcome in contemporary psychiatry.
Psychiatry’s aspirations as a branch of medicine are often in conflict with its aspirations as a branch of science. As a branch of medicine, it aims to clinically address the complaints of individuals with mental disorders, including the subjective, mental, and first- person aspects of psychopathology (such as feelings of worthlessness and hallucinations). As a branch of science, on the other hand, it targets the objective, embodied, and third-person correlates of mental distress (such as atypical brain mechanisms and behavioral anomalies). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the psychiatric taxonomy used in the US and increasingly around the world, has traditionally been employed to identify both the scientific and medical targets of psychiatry, as well as in the service of sociological, pedagogical, and forensic projects. In attempting to be everything for psychiatry, however, the manual has succeeded in fully pleasing no one. The virtually universal dissatisfaction with contemporary nosology has led to a tension between critics who argue the way forward is focusing on the needs of the clinic and those who believe psychiatry should work harder to resemble the sciences.
We believe that the resolution of this dilemma is hindered by a contemporary form of dualism, in which psychiatric disorders are seen as either disembodied problems in living or as subtypes of somatic disease. There is a tendency to perceive the etiology of psychiatric disorders as either brain-based (organic or biological), to be investigated by the biomedical sciences, or mind-based (functional or psychological), to be investigated by behavior-based schemas such as the DSM or patient-centered approaches that take a more holistic approach to disorder. There is also a tendency to divide psychiatric treatments into those that directly target the brain, e.g., antidepressants, and those that purportedly target the mind, e.g., cognitive behavior therapy, — often to the detriment of the latter. While significant work has been done to overcome the dualistic conception of persons in the contemporary philosophy of cognitive science and in the philosophy of neuroscience, the results of these debates have not been fully transferred to the domain of psychiatry.
The goal of this conference is to address the crisis in psychiatric research and treatment by exploring the ways in which the mind-brain dualism can be overcome in contemporary psychiatry through an integration of approaches from philosophy of mind, philosophy of science (including philosophy of cognitive science and neuroscience) and philosophy of medicine. One goal of such re-evaluation is to reconcile the claim that psychopathology needs to be scientific with the claim that it needs to keep the experience of the sufferer at its core.
Format of Conference: The conference will take place over two days. Eight papers by early career scholars (graduate students, postdocs, and untenured faculty) will be commented on by senior philosophers who have expertise in philosophy of science, philosophy of neuroscience, or philosophy of medicine.
By matching each junior presenter with a senior commentator, our aim is to give junior scholars an opportunity to receive thoughtful and targeted feedback on their work and to facilitate lively discussions. Further, this format will initiate junior-mentor relationships that will help strengthen the philosophy of psychiatry community.
Each presenter will be given 25 minutes for his or her paper, followed by 15 minutes for commentary and 15 minutes for discussion.
If you are a senior scholar and would like to participate in the conference as a speaker or commentator, please contact Serife Tekin, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizing Committee: William Bechtel, Trey Boone, Mazviita Shirimuuta, Peter Machamer, Edouard Machery, Ken Schaffner, Kathryn Tabb, and Serife Tekin.
Jennifer Radden, PhD (Professor Emerita of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Boston).
John Sadler, MD (Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Services, University of Texas Southwestern).
Mazviita Chirimuuta (University of Pittsburgh)
Peter Machamer (University of Pittsburgh)
Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh)
Kenneth F. Schaffner (University of Pittsburgh)
Jacqueline Sullivan (Western University)
Jonathan Tsou (Iowa State University)
The theme of INCA 2014 is “All Facets of Autism: From Research to Practice”. The conference is expected to attract hundreds of participants from all around the World. Details can be found here.
An excerpt from the preface:
My approach in this monograph could easily be classified as part of the currently burgeoning “embodied mind” school or trend in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Where it differs from most other works in this field is, I would say, in that (a) it offers a somewhat more focused view of embodiment via offering a conceptual role to the PNS as such in analyzing mental phenomena rather than keeping the discourse at the level of notions like “body” or “action”, (b) it interprets the idea of the embodied mind not as most other philosophers, namely, representationally, as the body in the mind , but literally, namely, the mind as truly distributed over the body (in this sense, viz. of distinguishing it from most other popular approaches, I would rather call my approach “enminded body” than “embodied mind”), and (c) it relies a lot more on first-personal, phenomenological reflection when evaluating various theories about how things stand with the mind, without ending up in purely a priori conceptual analysis, but taking a lot of inspiration from empirical science (almost exclusively from neuroscience). Although most arguments I offer, and even the problems I raise in the book are, to my knowledge, new, the general points enumerated above, (a) to (c) are not totally absent from the current literature. I would especially like to express my intellectual debt to Shaun Gallagher’s work, whose methodology and general approach to various issues was a great inspiration, even if the particular issues and debates he has been involved with are not present in this work.
(cover design: I. Aranyosi, own body PET scan)
In my previous post, “Is Truth Beneficial and/or Socially Constructed?,” I mentioned as a counterexample to the pragmatist theory of truth a nightmare a person had which she did not tell anyone about and kept as a secret for the rest of her life. The nightmare was so horrible and embarrassing that every time she remembered her nightmare, she was disturbed. Her life became a nightmare of sorts because of that nightmare.
Actually this kind of scenario is very rare in real life. The fact is that we tend to forget our dreams and nightmares soon after waking up. Even before we get up from bed, most of the content of our dream has already evaporated from our memory. We remember only very few, if any, of our dreams and nightmares in the rest of our lives. The ones we remember for a while are the ones which were extremely interesting or shocking for us, or those we had the chance to tell other people about on many occasions, which kept our memory of them alive. Ask yourself how many of your dreams and nightmares you still remember. I bet very few, if any.
The interesting thing is that we forget even the most vivid of our dreams and most frightful of our nightmares in the twinkling of an eye (unless our memory of them is reinforced by telling other people about them or by intentional recalling, for example). We forget our dreams even though some of them are more vibrant than certain waking experiences which we remember for much longer time.
Psychologists and brain physiologists tell us that dreams serve a useful function for our brain. So we have to have them. But it seems we also have to forget them fast after having them. I think there is a simple evolutionary explanation of this phenomenon. If we were to remember our dreams long after we woke up, we would be disposed to confuse the memories of our dreams with the memories of our waking experiences. Suppose I have a dream in which a friend of mine does something evil to me or an enemy of mine does a big favor for me. If my brain were to retain as lively a memory of that dream as the memories of my real life experiences, I might mistakenly think the contents of my dream correspond to some real experiences of mine that occurred in the past, and my attitude towards my friend or towards my enemy would unnecessarily be affected by that mistake. Such disorientations clearly would have negative survival value and therefore would be blocked by the mechanisms of human evolution. Hence the elusiveness of our dream contents.*
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the official classification manual developed for use in clinical, educational, and research settings; it is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and is regularly revised. The fifth edition (DSM-5) is expected to appear in May 2013. In the DSM’s current edition (DSM-IV), feelings of sadness and associated symptoms (e.g., insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss), following the death of a loved one are excluded from the criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but a cautionary clause states that if these symptoms continue beyond two months and impair the individual’s psychological, social and occupational functioning, she may be given an MDD diagnosis.
The DSM-5 Working Group for the Mood Disorders has recently proposed the removal of the bereavement exclusion from the diagnostic criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), arguing that the available evidence does not support distinguishing bereavement from other stressors that underlie MDD.
This proposal has led to a controversial debate on the advantages and disadvantages of distinguishing between the cases that involve individuals who develop major depression in response to bereavement and those who develop depression following other severe stressors. For instance, Allen Frances, the lead editor of DSM-IV, is concerned that removing the bereavement exclusion will result in over-diagnosing and over-treating non-pathological grief by labelling it MDD.