Taking Control with Mechanisms of Psychotherapy

In Matt King & Joshua May (eds.), Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This chapter examines the control capacities of individuals with certain mental disorders and how, specifically, their reasons-responsiveness improves with treatment. Successful talk therapy, in particular, can bring individuals with disorders of agency closer to full-blown agency. The discussion focuses, first, on Agoraphobia and Exposure Therapy and, second, on Borderline Personality Disorder and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. We can see effective techniques of talk therapy, such as gradual exposure or radical acceptance exercises, as operating on the ability of patients to respond appropriately to reasons. In this way, reasons-responsiveness is a lens through which both to better appreciate the flourishing of patients, via improved control in both moral and nonmoral contexts. The chapter bridges philosophical concepts of reasons-responsiveness with key psychiatric constructs, such as distress tolerance and experiential avoidance.

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Robyn Waller
University of Sussex

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