Mennesket bag kitlen: En begivenhedsfilosofisk dekonstruktion af psykiatriens faglige etos

Ása Hrefnudóttir

Student thesis: Master thesis


From the foundation of Ole Fogh Kirkeby’s theory of event, this thesis investigates how meaning and values are constructed within the different paradigmatic areas in the field of psychiatry. Despite the efforts made by the prevailing paradigm, the biomedical model of disease, to prove a biological origin of mental disease, the field still awaits tests that can be applied in the clinic. This has given ground for critics, spearheaded by psychosocial conceptions of psychiatry, to challenge the underlying assumptions and scientific methods of the biomedical model, blaming the model for being inhumane, reductionist, medicalizing and even corrupt. Using Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions, I argue, that the psychosocial and biomedical paradigms perceive the same phenomena with profoundly different conceptions of perception, with the result being, that they are unable to comprehend the position of the other. In compliance, these conceptions stem from “pre-scientific” assumptions rooted in beliefs about the world, which’s scientific grounds can reasonably be doubted. To challenge the perceptions of the paradigms I draw upon Kirkeby’s theory of event. From this perspective, both “mental illness” and “treatment” can be perceived as events, that the divergent paradigms are trying to give meaning. This construction of meaning, however, can be grasped prematurely, leading to misconceptions of the depth of the event. With Kuhn in mind, it is merited to question the basic epistemological approaches to what we can reasonably know about the grounds of mental illness and how it is treated. Departing from the hermeneutic school of thought, I argue, that “sciences” are never value-free. To unfold the underlying values, I make use of an approach I refer to as deconstructive interpretation, to unravel “the human” from “professional assumptions”. The intention is, to incite the employee to consciously reflect upon the value construction of her field. To aid the employee’s reflection, I propose using Kirkeby’s protreptic, as the foundation of protreptic is to liberate by reflecting upon basic values. The intention is, that the employee should liberate herself from the structures of her field, to be able to assist her patients to liberate themselves from the structures of mental illness. As a final point of this dissertation, I will give a concrete example of a protreptic conversation.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages77