Trauma and intersubjectivity: the phenomenology of empathy in PTSD

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (1):141-145 (2019)

Lillian Wilde
University of York
With my research, I wish to contribute to the discussion of post-traumatic psychopathologies from a phenomenological perspective. The main question I pursue is to what extent PTSD can be understood as an intersubjective psychopathology and which implications this view might have. In this paper, I argue that the mode of perception allowing for intersubjective experience is vulnerable to disruptions through traumatic events. I begin with a short elaboration on what intersubjectivity entails before proceeding to illustrate how it can be impaired. Then, I focus on the concept of empathy as a mode of perception: I propose that due to a disruption of the ability to empathize an individual suffering from PTSD may cease to experience the other as another subject that offers possibilities for interaction. The traumatized individual is thus unable to establish meaningful connections with others. I offer some implications this view might entail for thinking about trauma treatment.
Keywords Phenomenology  Empathy  Trauma  PTSD  Intersubjectivity
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-018-9854-x
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References found in this work BETA

Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.
Sein und Zeit.Martin Heidegger - 1928 - Annalen der Philosophie Und Philosophischen Kritik 7:161-161.
Is the Self a Social Construct?Dan Zahavi - 2009 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (6):551-573.

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