n South African Journal of Psychiatry - The problematic neglect of phenomenology in contemporary psychiatry : opinion

Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1608-9685
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6786



An adequate understanding of the phenomena of the psychoses remains elusive. This might seem a rather perplexing observation given strenuous research endeavours and a wealth of scientific information, particularly in recent years in the domains of molecular biology and neuro-imaging. A wide range of factors may be held to account for these limitations, one being that the brain is the most complex thing in the known universe, and should not be expected to yield its workings in much the same way as broken bones. Another is the enduring and profoundly mysterious gulf between observable neurobiological events and, for example, the experience of having thoughts inserted into one's brain, an enigma as much for philosophers as for psychiatrists. Related to this is a problem that some might regard as among the most significant achievements of modern psychiatry, the ICD and DSM diagnostic systems.

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