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Does psychiatry need the Husserlian detour?

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Commentary on ‘The View from Within’, edited by Francisco Varela and Jonathan Shear (including response from J. Naudin)

[opening paragraph]: Reading the article by Naudin et al. on Husserlian reduction in psychiatry prompted me to review a few chapters of my intellectual autobiography. I entered graduate school enamoured with Husserl, believing him a potent and necessary antidote to the hubris of the ‘natural attitude’ expounded by natural science. But I left graduate school believing that Husserl was too wrapped up in the debate as to whether reality was objective or subjective. Hence I ask in response to Naudin et al.: must we take on Husserl's Cartesian baggage only to shed it as we move from trascendental subjectivity to the life world to narrative? The Husserlian apparatus seems a needlessly complicated and convoluted tool for exploring the essentially social deficit of the schizophrenic. Perhaps the most valuable contribution of phenomenology to psychiatry is (as Varela states in his paper) its assiduous cultivation of ‘beginner's mind’ as it is often spoken of in Zen practice.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Dept. Of Psychiatry, University of Washington, Box 356560, Seattle WA 98915-6560, USA.

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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