Contexts of Suffering draws on Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology and his analysis of human existence to challenge core assumptions in contemporary psychiatry by contextualizing mental illness and illuminating its existential and experiential qualities. The book explores the limitations of today’s biomedical model and examines mental illness from a first-person perspective to show how it can disrupt and modify the meaning-structures that constitute our subjectivity. It goes on to offer a hermeneutic analysis of mental illness by shedding light on the extent to which our historical situation shapes the way we diagnose, classify, and experience our suffering and provides the discursive framework through which we can interpret and make sense of it. To this end, the book highlights the crucial need for clinicians to regard the sufferer not as a neurochemical entity but as a way of being that is uniquely situated, embodied, and self-interpreting. Contexts of Suffering will be a valuable resource for Heidegger scholars, philosophers of health and illness, medical ethicists, and mental healthcare professionals in general.
Introduction / Part I: Phenomenology and the Limits of Contemporary Psychopathology / 1. Medicalizing Mental Illness / 2. Heidegger and the Structures of Subjectivity / Part II: Structural Breakdowns: Space, Time, and Understanding / 3. Disturbances of Spatiality / 4. Disturbances of Temporality / 5. The Death of Meaning / Part III: Hermeneutic Psychiatry: Situating Mental Illness / 6. What is Hermeneutic Psychiatry? / 7. Situating Social Anxiety / 8. Situating Neurasthenia / 9. Situating Rage / Conclusion / Bibliography / Index
Kevin Aho is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Communication and Philosophy at Florida Gulf Coast University. He is the author of Existentialism: An Introduction (2014), Heidegger’s Neglect of the Body (2009), and co-author of Body Matters: A Phenomenology of Sickness, Illness, and Disease (2008).