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

Jaspers on feelings and affective states

Giovanni Stanghellini, René Rosfort

pp. 149-168

The purpose of this chapter is to examine Jaspers' analysis of emotions and emotional experience in the General Psychopathology (1997/1959, hereafter GP), to try to make sense of his rather ambivalent attitude towards human emotional life, and finally to discuss if these analyses are helpful for understanding troubled human experience and relevant for contemporary clinical practice. The chapter is divided into six sections. First, we introduce our investigation by asking about the relevance of a Jaspersian psychopathology for contemporary psychiatry. Do we need psychopathology at all? And if so, does Jaspers' psychopathology still have something to teach us today? And what is the relevance of feelings for psychopathology? We then look at the ambivalent role that feelings and emotional experience play in Jaspers' psychopathology. The third, and most extensive, section is dedicated to an overview of Jaspers' treatment of feelings and affective states in the GP. With this overview in place, we then try to articulate his understanding of the role emotions play in mental suffering. We do this by integrating his rather fragmentary descriptions and analyses of emotions into the wider context of a psychopathology of emotional experience. In the fifth section, we will venture an explanation of Jaspers' ambivalent attitude to emotional experience in terms of his reluctance to formulate a systematic theory of human nature. This explanation will allow us, by way of conclusion, to outline how Jaspers' peculiar attitude towards emotional experience may (or may not) point in the direction of a person-centred psychopathology of emotions.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8878-1_10

Full citation:

Stanghellini, G. , Rosfort, R. (2014)., Jaspers on feelings and affective states, in T. Fuchs, T. Breyer & C. Mundt (eds.), Karl Jaspers' philosophy and psychopathology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 149-168.

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