Embodiment and psychopathology: a phenomenological perspective

Thomas Fuchs, Jann E Schlimme
Current Opinion in Psychiatry 2009, 22 (6): 570-5

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To survey recent developments in phenomenological psychopathology.

RECENT FINDINGS: We present the concept of embodiment as a key paradigm of recent interdisciplinary approaches from the areas of philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. This requires a short overview on the phenomenological concept of embodiment; in particular, on the distinction of subject and object body. A psychopathology of embodiment may be based on these and other distinctions, in particular on a polarity of disembodiment and hyperembodiment, which is illustrated by the examples of schizophrenia and depression. Recent contributions to phenomenological accounts of these disorders are presented. Finally, the study discusses the relationship of phenomenological and neuropsychiatric perspectives on embodiment.

SUMMARY: A phenomenology of embodiment may be combined with enactive approaches to cognitive neuroscience in order to overcome dualist concepts of the mind as an inner realm of representations that mirror the outside world. Phenomenological and ecological concepts of embodiment should also be conjoined to enable a new, advanced understanding of mental illness.

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