Psychosis and Intelligibility

Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 28 (3):233-249 (2021)
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When interacting with other people, we assume that they have their reasons for what they do and believe, and experience recognizable feelings and emotions. When people act from weakness of will or are otherwise irrational, what they do can still be comprehensible to us, since we know what it is like to fall for temptation and act against one’s better judgment. Still, when someone’s experiences, feelings and way of thinking is vastly different from our own, understanding them becomes increasingly difficult. Delusions and psychosis are often seen as marking the end of intelligibility. In this paper, I argue first for the importance of seeing other people as intelligible as long as this is at all possible. Second, I argue, based on both previous literature and my own lived experience, that more psychotic phenomena than previously thought can be rendered at least somewhat intelligible. Besides bizarre experiences like illusions, hallucinations and intense feelings of significance, I also explain what it is like to lose one’s bedrock, and how this loss impacts which beliefs one has reason to reject. Finally, I give an inside account of some disturbances of reason, and show that there are important similarities between certain psychotic reasoning problems and common non-pathological phenomena.

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Author's Profile

Sofia Jeppsson
Umeå University

Citations of this work

Overcoming Hermeneutical Injustice in Mental Health: A Role for Critical Phenomenology.Rosa Ritunnano - 2022 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 53 (3):243-260.
Radical psychotic doubt and epistemology.Sofia Jeppsson - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology 36 (8):1482-1506.
A Wide-Enough Range of ‘Test Environments’ for Psychiatric Disabilities.Sofia Jeppsson - 2023 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 94:39-53.
Strategy, Pyrrhonian Scepticism and the Allure of Madness.Sofia Jeppsson & Paul Lodge - forthcoming - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy.
Rationalism.Jakob Ohlhorst - forthcoming - In Ema Sullivan Bissett (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Delusion. Routledge.

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