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(2014) Karl Jaspers' philosophy and psychopathology, Dordrecht, Springer.

Brain mythologies

Thomas Fuchs

pp. 75-84

Karl Jaspers is considered the founder of psychopathology as a science with its own object and own methodology. This foundation was built substantially on his rebuttal of naturalistic reductionism, which is an attempt to reduce mental phenomena and instances of mental illness to the brain's organic substrate. Psychopathology as a science is based, by contrast, on the assumption that mental abnormalities bear a meaningful and gestalt-like character and thus cannot be exhausted by listing symptoms, which would then be understood as direct reflections of neurobiological disturbances. In his critique of the "Brain Mythologies" in his day, Jaspers opposes overhasty localization of mental functions to certain centers of the brain as well as absolutization of causal research. He contrasts this reductionist approach with an understanding-based approach, established through reenactment, empathy, and thereby the internal relatedness that the therapist feels towards his patient as a fellow human being. The relevance of the Jaspersian critique will be established in view of the current neurobiological paradigm in psychiatry. At the same time, it will be asserted that psychopathology today has become insufficient by being restricted solely to the domain of conscious subjectivity. Only if psychopathology surpasses the subjectivism of understanding and considers biological processes as such to be socially and historically constituted, will it be able to regain its relevance.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8878-1_5

Full citation:

Fuchs, T. (2014)., Brain mythologies, in T. Fuchs, T. Breyer & C. Mundt (eds.), Karl Jaspers' philosophy and psychopathology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 75-84.

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