Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Value for psychiatry of the explanation/understanding distinction

Joseph Gough (see Gough (2021) and Gough (2023)) seems to me to wrongly undermine the value for psychiatry of the explanation/understanding distinction from Dilthey. True, Jaspers notion of un-understandability as a basis for defining organic disorders does not hold up. And the apparent incomprehensibility of psychosis can be understood (see Wendler & Fuchs (2023)). 

But there is a very real sense in which we may not be able to say what causes functional mental health problems in physical terms. Relationship with antecedents is not linear but more circular (see previous post). This does not mean that it's not important to try and understand the reasons for mental health problems, even that they may provide a kind of explanation (see another previous post). Naturalistic explanations are inadequate because of the need to take a holistic personalistic view of mental health problems. Mind and body are integrated in the organism but this does not really dissolve the mind-body problem, merely acknowledge it can’t be solved.

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