Philosophy Psychiatry and Psychology

Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 6.1, March 1999

Contents

Feature Articles

    Jones, Edgar.
  • The Phenomenology of Abnormal Belief: A Philosophical and Psychiatric Inquiry
    Subject Headings:
    • Delusions.
    • Faith.
    • Belief and doubt.
    Abstract:
      Delusion, one of the key symptoms of madness, has defied definition, being described as a belief, an incomprehensible phenomenon, and as an empty speech act. It was hypothesized that a detailed investigation of its characteristics would aid categorization and help to understand what makes it different from everyday forms of belief. Philosophical texts (principally those of Locke, Hume, Newman, and James, together with more recent writings from "folk psychology") were surveyed to elicit belief characteristics which could then be introduced to established clinical tests. Seven qualities drawn from the philosophy of mind were added to five borrowed from empirical psychology in an attempt to broaden the investigation of delusion. These revealed significant differences between delusions held by schizophrenics, the overvalued ideas of anorectics, and the religious beliefs of a normal population of church attendees. This study shows not only that these phenomena are capable of detailed analysis, but that ideas taken from philosophy can be profitably reapplied to complex questions of descriptive psychopathology.
    Keywords:
      abnormal belief, delusion, overvalued idea, faith, folk psychology, initial and derived beliefs, David Hume, William James

Commentaries

    Stephens, G. Lynn.
  • Defining Delusion
    Subject Headings:
    • Delusions.
    • Mental illness -- Diagnosis.
    • Jones, Edgar. Phenomenology of abnormal belief: a philosophical and psychiatric inquiry.
    Jones, Edgar.
  • Response to Commentaries
    Subject Headings:
    • David, Anthony S. On the impossibility of defining delusions.
    • Ghaemi, S. Nassir. Empirical approach to understanding delusions.
    • Stephens, G. Lynn. Defining delusion.
    Benn, Piers.
  • Freedom, Resentment, and the Psychopath
    Subject Headings:
    • Psychopaths.
    • Insanity, Moral.
    • Strawson, P. F. -- Criticism and interpretation.
    Abstract:
      This paper discusses the moral responsibility of psychopaths for their anti-social actions. Starting from P. F. Strawson's discussion of our participant reactive attitudes, which stresses their indispensability for meaningful human relations, the paper contrasts a variety of "normal" wrongdoers with psychopaths. It suggests that the latter are often seriously deficient in their capacity to entertain these attitudes, and that their resulting lack of proper self-evaluation may explain both their callousness and their imprudence. It is then argued that only creatures able to entertain participant reactive attitudes can be proper objects of those attitudes, since these reactions have a communicative core whose expression has a point only in a shared moral world. For this reason, if psychopaths are incapable of moral understanding, they may not be proper targets of anger and resentment. This, however, may have an illiberal implication, in possibly excluding psychopaths from possessing certain rights.
    Keywords:
      participant reactive attitudes, Strawson, Kantian thought

Commentaries

    Benn, Piers.
  • Response to the Commentaries
    Subject Headings:
    • Adshead, Gwen. Psychopaths and other-regarding beliefs.
    • Harold, James. Travelers, mercenaries, and psychopaths.
    • Gillett, Grant, 1950-. Benn-ding the rules of resentment.
    • Slovenko, Ralph. Responsibility of the psychopath.



[Project MUSE] [Search Page] [Journals] [Journal Directory] [Top]