Key Note Speakers:
“Pity, sympathy, empathy: what is the emotional basis of a therapeutic relationship?”
Should therapist be like a mirror and “opaque’’ to his patients or should he be empathetic, build trust and establish a personal relationship? My starting point will be a critique of the Freudian conception of transference, counter-transference and affectivity. Then I would like to recall Martin Buber’s thesis about relationship in his famous essay I and Thou and clarify the ambiguous concept of empathy as ontological and psychological one. Finally, I will examine in what sense empathy unlike sympathy, pity or compassion can be the basis of a therapeutic relationship.
Living without emotions
« L’émotion est au cœur de l’être humain. Elle est aussi au centre de toute relation, exprimée sur un mode verbal ou analogique. Elle vibre en nos corps, elle est notre quotidien. Pourtant, sa définition n’est pas simple, même pour les ‘travailleurs de l’émotionnel’ que sont les psychothérapeutes », wrote Édith Goldbeter-Merinfeld, a contemporary belgian family psychotherapist, disciple of the late psychiatrist Mony Elkaïm, in her Introduction of the 2002 volume La question des émotions.
In this contribution, I will describe two kinds of situation and experience where human beings result deprived of emotions. The most well-known one is sometimes identified with the expression of « emotional numbness » : it refers to a multifaceted mental disorder ; a less well-known one is often refered to as a form of « emotional detachment ». It was experienced along centuries by monks and spiritual teachers as a practice of inner liberation. How is it that emotionlessness is a name for such opposed valence-laden situations ? Besides, what does a non-emotional life tell us about human beings, if emotions are truly at the heart of human beings, as Goldbeter writes ?
Prospects and problems for the naturalization of affectivity
Efforts to integrate phenomenological philosophy and cognitive science tend to be one-sidedly focused on naturalizing phenomenology. Varela’s neuro-phenomenology research program had aimed at a more balanced approach by focusing on the common structure of temporal dynamics, but it thereby ignored the specificities of the domains of consciousness and matter. The limits to this agnostic approach are particularly evident when trying to account for the foundational role of affectivity, for example when experiential quality, not just structure, make a difference to embodied action. I argue that making progress on this classical mind-body problem depends on rejecting two common over-simplifications, such that consciousness and matter are (1) neither two non-intersecting domains, (2) nor one identical domain observed from internal and external point of views. At the same time, cognitive science must learn to directly work with the irreducible ambiguity that results from accepting that consciousness and matter are “not one, not two”. This new starting point offers a promising perspective from which to investigate affective disorders.
Hatred can be understood as a persistent affective disposition, which is based on an experienced grievance or injustice and aims at revenge against its originator, in extreme cases at the destruction of the enemy. The dynamics and radicality of hatred result from the retention of affect, which is caused by the perceived weakness or powerlessness of the hater, but can finally turn into acute destructive actions. A dialectic of self-enhancement and self-destructiveness with progressive emptying of the self is thereby elaborated as the characteristic structure of hatred. This individual dynamic is often found in a potentiated form in the hatred of groups, which can be traced back to social and political experiences of grievance.
Disgust, Hatred, Love: Phenomenological Analyses
Abstract: My paper provides a phenomenological account of three emotions: hatred, disgust and love. I will develop two arguments that both question the adequacy of purely cognitivistic approaches to emotions. First, I argue that hatred as well as love essentially entail a conative component, a deciding, which provides them with temporal permanence and practical conditions of realization. Hatred thus differs from anger and indignation, and love from affection, attraction and infatuation. Second, I demonstrate that the emotion of disgust is an evaluative form of perceptual consciousness and not dependent on cognitions about its target. Disgust thus differs from fear but, on the other hand, it reminds attraction and allure which operate and depend on perception (or imagination). My analyses develop further the basic accounts that we find in the works of Aurel Kolnai and Edmund Husserl, but they are also informed by the discussions of Jean-Paul Sartre (on hate-speech) and Merleau-Ponty (on love).
Professor of Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä
Vice President of the Philosophical Society of Finland
Academy Professor (2017–2021), Academy of Finland
Music in Relation to Grief – What is the Possible Basis of a Therapeutic Relationship?
Although music is often utilized in the context of bereavement, it is rarely considered in the philosophical literature on grief. I will suggest that a variety of mechanisms enable music to serve the needs of grieving people. Its haptic aspect, its idealized movement, its temporal continuity, its “conservatism,” its mnemonic power, its capacity to promote social bonding, and its power to express and arouse emotion make it potentially powerful in alleviating some of distressing features of bereavement. In particular, music’s temporal character can make the impression that time is at a standstill less isolating and facilitate a sense of being in communion with the deceased.
Affordances and absence in psychopathology
Affordances are action-possibilities, ways of relating to and acting on our world. A theory of affordances helps us understand how we have bodily access to our world and what it means to enjoy such access. But what happens to bodies when this access is somehow ruptured or impeded? People with psychiatric disorders often describe feeling as though they’ve lost access to affordances that others take for granted. Focusing on schizophrenia, depression, and autistic spectrum disorder, I argue that thinking about the bodily consequences of losing access to everyday affordances can help us better understand these reports. An affordance-based approach to psychopathology can illuminate some of the causes, as well as the experiential character and content, of affective disorders in psychopathology. It can also draw our attention to some under-explored ethical and political dimensions of these issues needing further consideration.
Grief, Emotion Regulation, and Psychiatric Illness
In this talk, I will sketch an account of grief developed in my forthcoming book Grief Worlds: A Study of Emotional Experience (MIT Press, 2022). I will also suggest that, by conceiving of emotions more generally in these terms, we can better understand disturbances of emotion, including those that characterize certain psychiatric conditions. Rather than thinking of emotional experience in terms of brief episodes or enduring moods that are susceptible to various disturbances, I will emphasize the dynamic structure of temporally extended emotional processes, the distinctive kind of intentionality that these processes involve, and how their regulation depends on interpersonal and social relations.
The Autonomy of Suffering: Emotions, Responsibility, and Mental Illness
There is something uncomfortable about talk of responsibility when it comes to illness, and especially with respect to mental illness. While we may expect and perhaps even request agency and thus responsibility when it comes to recovery, the issue is more contentious and hazardous with respect to the illness itself. In which way – if at all – is a patient responsible for her illness? Mental illnesses are illnesses of experience in that the lack of unequivocal biomarkers makes the experiential feature of mental illness more dramatically relevant than with other types of illnesses. With the experiential priority comes the medical challenge of the emotional character of a mental illness. What a mental illness feels like is somehow critical to understanding and treating the illness in question. This paper will examine two interconnected aspects of the medical challenge that the feeling or suffering of mental illness presents for contemporary psychiatry. First, the phenomenological problem of making sense of suffering, and second the ethical challenge of responsibility involved in both making sense of and dealing with the suffering particular to mental illness. The argument is that the emotional dimension of mental illness discloses that the ethical challenge is inherent in the phenomenological problem. We therefore need to place the normative dimensions of mental illness at the very center of our scientific endeavor to explain and deal with mental illnesses, rather than in the periphery as it is predominantly the case today.
Emotions are the totality of our ties to the world, are the way we live in this world, in its past, presence and future. They are based on our bodily experience and are the medium of our attachments to other people.
People with schizophrenia experience loosening or even absence of all of these ties: they feel disconnected from the world, disembodied and alienated from one’s own subjectivity and simultaneously from other people. They feel detached from everyone and everything and their emotions are experienced as if floating unattached in the void full of anxiety and confusion, broken by islands of revelation – psychotic or mystical –, often without history (and future) and with a sense of not belonging (not even to the human race).
Such un-attachment, usually accompanied by hyper-vigilance and hyper-reflexivity, paves the way to transformative experiences. To both wings of transformative experiences, i.e. to the experiences of dark void without hope and to the life-changing revelatory or other mystical experiences.
Phenomenology of emotion experience lies at the heart of any clinically relevant psychotherapy, which rises or falls with emotions. In the case of psychotherapy for schizophrenia, it needs to address and diminish a person’s sense of un-attachment to the world, oneself and other people. It needs to open the space for understanding the low threshold for transformative experiences of all kinds. Experiences of severely despaired and mystically enlightened individuals – via their testimonies and autobiographical texts – can serve as important markings on the patient’s path. They need to be incorporated into the contemporary psychotherapy for schizophrenia as they used to be part of all the religious and philosophical traditions, serving practically as psychotherapies ante litteram.
Affective Arrangements: A Modest Proposal for the Study of Emotions
Research and scholarship on emotions since the early 20th century has been characterized by two broad tendencies that are in some tension: An older tendency is to center inquiry firmly on the individual and construe emotions as paradigmatic “inner states”. A younger trend instead foregrounds relationality, sociality and interactional dynamics of affective phenomena, thereby dismounting the individual from its position as prime locus of emotions. In present-day work, we often find aspects of both currents in uneasy coexistence, for example in approaches that ask how affective states might be “situated”, environmentally “embedded” or even constitutively “extended” phenomena. In my talk, I want to outline a framework that can do better at reconciling both tendencies and bringing out what is right in each of them. What I call “affective arrangements” are dynamic constellations of heterogenous elements that coalesce to produce a characteristic local affective texture. Individuals can become part of an affective arrangement and have their affective experience co-determined by the constellation in question. Individuals themselves might also “be” affective arrangements in their own right: not so much coherent subjects but haphazardly assembled patchworks of elements, beset by conflicting tendencies, and caught up in a lifelong struggle to accommodate socially imposed mandates and expectations. In my talk, I will explain the concept of an affective arrangement both theoretically and by discussing examples. On these grounds I will subsequently outline how the concept can anchor a perspective for theorizing emotions in a fruitful way beyond the pitfalls of the older trends. Like all well-developed proposals to deal with emotions, the framework I present will include a perspective on theorizing the subject.
The concept is derivative from Deleuze’s and Guattari’s concept of agencement machinique
Metacognitive or epistemic feelings (MCFs) have been introduced to explain our ability to not only have affective emotions referring to external objects, people, or situations, but also feelings with reference to our own cognitive processing. While in current philosophy and cognitive science, MCFs are often construed within a cognitivist framework denying a phenomenally conscious and agentive access to their reference processes, recent first-person studies suggest that MCFs are related to corresponding aspects of intention, which in turn relate to specific forms of mental activity, all which phenomena can be observed and reported by participants in appropriate tasks. This opens the perspective to understand MCFs and emotions at all not only as reactive output of automatic, informationally encapsulated (e.g., neural) processes, but to consider them as more directly accessible and strategically deployable ingredients of mental action. In the talk, this nexus between metacognitive feelings, intention, and mental agency will be theoretically motivated and substantiated by qualitative and quantitative empirical results of selected studies on perceptual reversal and directed thought.
It has become common to distinguish between collectively and individually intentional mental states. One way to distinguish between the types of mental states is in terms of formal objects, which are “correlates that correspond to each kind of mental state.” (Teroni 2007, 396) For example, the property of ‘being true’ is a formal object of belief, the property of ‘being better than’ – of preference, and values or evaluative properties – of emotions. Then, what is a formal object of collectively intentional mental states? I will discuss this question with a help of shared emotions.
Although several analyses of shared emotions in terms of their constitutive elements have been proposed, none have discussed what their formal object is. One of the proposed elements of shared emotions is a sense of togetherness (Szanto 2015, Zahavi 2015, León et al. 2019, Thonhauser 2018, 2020, 2022, Salmela forthcoming). It is characterized as “an awareness that we are experiencing this
emotion together, which amounts to an awareness of the communal subject of the experience.” (Thonhauser 2018, 15)
In this paper, I propose to reinterpret the sense of togetherness as a formal object of shared emotions. I begin by arguing that the existing accounts of the sense of togetherness too readily conflate the notions of experiencing together, experiences being ‘our,’ and a sense of being a co-subject of an experience and conceive of togetherness as a shorthand for an awareness of oneself as a co-subject of an experience. Instead, I propose to distinguish analytically between the senses of togetherness and being a co-subject of an experience. I then argue that togetherness satisfies the three requirements for formal objects – individuation, intelligibility, and correctness (Teroni 2007). Third, I argue that conceiving togetherness as a formal object is in line with a bottom-up interactive story of emergence of shared emotions (e.g., Fuchs 2013, Krueger 2013, 2016, Thonhauser 2020, Vincini 2021, Salmela forthcoming). I conclude by drawing some implications of this discussion to collectively intentional mental states in general.
Recently, a growing body of research has addressed the possibly delusionary character of collective paranoid ideations and particularly conspiracy theories. At the same time individual paranoid delusions have increasingly been approached as not only social by content but as specific impairments of social epistemological processes, e.g., trusting others’ testimonies. However, as useful as a distinction between full-blown paranoid delusions and conspiracy theories in terms of epistemic capabilities might be, invoking trust equally points to an affective dimension. The relevance of the affective underpinnings finds support in approaches which claim that adopting conspiracy theories is not captured adequately as irrationality, strictly speaking, or that holding conspiratorial “beliefs” rather expresses non-doxastic attitudes like hope or imaginings. Following this line of thinking, it will be claimed that an altered dynamics of trust and familiarity fits not only the non-doxastic profile but provides an explanatory surplus in being fine-grained enough to discriminate between clinical delusions, on the one, and superstitious beliefs on the other hand. In this talk, I set out to develop this claim by building upon a recent suggestion to understand conspiracy theories as “collective confabulations”. Next, I will argue that “confabulations”, in the broad sense of term as it is used in contemporary philosophy of mind, social and moral psychology, are essentially related to affectivity. In a final step, I will show how trust and familiarity, respectively alterations thereof, in leading to an aberrant resonance-seeking are driving factors for conspiratorial attitudes and adopting “collective confabulations”.
Among the various proposals recently set forth on the role played by the body vis-à-vis emotional experiences, one of the most stimulating viewpoints is Jan Slaby’s, according to which emotions are active engagements towards the world (Slaby 2014, 2021). The first part of the talk will aim at depicting how his agentivist standpoint helps conferring a renewed function to the body throughout emotional episodes, compared both to Jamesian and cognitivist theories. However, the case of the emotion of sadness, which phenomenologically constitutes a loss of agency, appears as a fundamental objection against Slaby’s view. This counterexample will thus prompt me, in the second part, to develop an original conception of emotions, according to which the latter are not to be understood in terms of action but in the language of the desires that underpin active behaviors. Through a phenomenological analysis of joy and sadness, I will defend a twofold claim. First, each emotion is elicited by a specific conative pattern (genetic scheme) – for example, joy is triggered by the successful achievement of an important goal. Second, each emotion is essentially defined, not directly as a certain type of desire, but as a specific transformation of our global system of desires (constitutive scheme): for instance, sadness is characterized by the global extinction of desire it induces. This framework will help reinterpreting the body as both a mirror and a sounding board of the conative situation of the subject, thus avoiding the deficiencies of other theories of embodied emotionality.
Embitterment is an emotion which is known to everybody. Similar to anxiety, embitterment is a reactive emotion, but which is triggered not by threats, but experiences of injustice, breach of trust, humiliation in association with helplessness. Embitterment is a complex emotion encompassing frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, anger, and aggression, and can even culminate in murder suicide. About one in two persons in the general population and almost two out of three in psychosomatic patients report about some negative life event which has triggered lasting feelings of embitterment. Embitterment can, similar to anxiety, also be provoked by societal developments, and even cause political problems.
In higher intensity and duration it comes to Posttraumatic Embitterment Disorder (PTED), a crippling disorder which has already been described by Kraepelin. The prevalence is about 3%. It is accompanied by intrusions, downheartedness, and multiple psychosomatic complaints. In practice and research it has been found, that these disorders are difficult to treat and in need of special therapeutic approaches.
In spite of the high prevalence and negative consequences for patients and their environment, recognition of embitterment in general, and even more so in clinical practice is insufficient.
The aim of our talk is to conceptualize the phenomenon of ‘pathic epoché’ in the context of a therapeutic encounter. We will draw from phenomenological psychiatry as well as from recent works in which the encounter between patient and therapist is seen as a salient moment of mutual pathic actualization of the psychiatric disorder (Francesetti & Griffero, 2021). We will also propose the concept of ‘pathic epoché’ as a means of grasping the essence of this encounter.
Namely, the therapeutic encounter could follow a specific path, constituted first by a kind of atmosphere, which Rümke for example called praecox feeling (1990); second, proceeding towards the healing process, a sense of mutual trust can be created, if only “the psychiatrist realizes that the diagnostic basis of the patient is not simply his organism, but the placing-in-relationship with him, communicating with him insofar as he is a man, first and foremost, insofar as he is co-existing (mitdaseiend)“ (Binswanger, 1973).
We will show how this trust is not primarily based on inferential, epistemic mechanisms (see Fonagy et al. 2014) but it arises from embodied, emotional and co-present interactions (Bizzari 2022): in other words, from the pathic and atmospheric dimension. In this sense, the relationship itself becomes an instrument of cure, and the phenomenological method, with the epochè as the main tool, allows to focus on the pathic dimension and to work with it and not only with a list of symptoms.
Chronic pain is one of the most disabling medical conditions globally, yet, to date, we lack a satisfying theoretical framework for clinical practice. Over the last decades, several frameworks have been presented with the biopsychosocial model as the most promising so far. However, interpretations and applications of this model often fail to characterize the complexity and depth of the lived experience of chronic pain. In this paper, we aim to develop an affordance-based approach, characterizing how the persistence of pain alters a person’s field of affordances: the dynamic set of action possibilities that a person perceives as available to them. This model appears particularly promising as it allows for a systematic investigation of how chronic pain affects interrelated facets of the lived experience of patients in their dynamic interaction with the environment. First, the model emphasizes the transformative character of chronic pain, as it fundamentally changes the structure of how a person inhabits and dynamically attunes to their environment and how the world shows up to the person: threatening, alien, meaningless, and immutable. Second, this framework explores the connection between chronic pain and a person’s perception of their own body (lived body) which might deviate from what their physical body (living body) is capable of. In chronic pain, the body is no longer experienced as the medium that enables smooth interaction with the environment but the obstacle that resists such interaction. Third, the affordance-based model has concrete implications for clinical practice and might facilitate communication between philosophers, practitioners, and patients.
The problem of animal consciousness has been present in the phenomenological tradition from its very beginning. Edmund Husserl repeatedly returned to this question, once he began to deal with the problem of intersubjectivity (around 1905), until the end of his career. On the other hand, however, the problem of animal emotions is an underexplored topic in phenomenology – in Husserl’s work in particular. I suggest that a proper phenomenological account of animal emotions could significantly contribute to philosophical understanding of emotions and also – as a consequence – subjectivity. In my presentation, I address the problem of animal emotions from a Husserlian perspective.
My presentation is articulated in three main sections. In the first, I give an overview of Husserl’s theory of emotion and affection, primarily drawing from his unpublished work “Studien zur Struktur des Bewusstseins” [Husserliana XLIII/1-4]. In this work, Husserl discussed three principal levels of affective and emotional life, which are closely related: affective and emotional sensations, moods or dispositions, and explicitly emotional acts. I attempt to demonstrate that these three levels can also be found in animals with ‘higher’ levels of consciousness (at least mammals). In the second section, I focus on the problem of animal consciousness as it is presented by Husserl. In the final section, I outline some key elements for a systematic phenomenological theory of animal emotions, drawing also from contemporary ethological research on animals.
I introduce Merleau-Ponty’s description of the bodily powers of solicitation and projection and argue that these concepts allow a fruitful perspective for the study of emotion regulation. In order to explain patient Johann Schneider’s inability to perform abstract movements, Merleau-Ponty (1966) distinguishes two kinds of bodily agency: the power of the body to be solicited by a given situation and the power of the body to project a virtual situation. In the pathological case of Schneider, these two capacities which are normally comprised in a dynamic unity have become dissociated. While Schneider can initiate concrete movements (e.g. grasping) prompted by the affordances of his actual surrounding, his capacity to project a virtual situation that could guide abstract movements (e.g. pointing gestures) is diminished.
I propose that for Merleau-Ponty, the bodily powers of solicitation and projection are not only at play in the motoric dimension of body-situation interaction but also comprise an affective dimension. In this interpretation, the capacity of projection can be conceptualized as the ability to distance oneself from the immediate affective affordances of the given situation and instead, by an active impulse, project oneself into a novel situation thereby disclosing alternative affective valences and emotional meanings. This interpretation offers an alternative perspective on the emotion regulation process of “cognitive reappraisal” which in the psychological literature is viewed as a major strategy for actively altering the quality or intensity of an emotional state’s intensity or quality.
Ipseity and mineness sphere temporally structures subjectivity, this structuring process stems from the individual flow of consciousness (Husserl E 93 2002). The temporal experience structured is deeply intertwined with bodily movement (Sheets-Johnstone, M 28 2014), and both function as a surface of psychopathological manifestations (Fuchs T & Pallagrosi M 297 2018). This work proposes to ground psychopathology & psychotherapy research on the coordinated function between temporal & movement experience, and their correlation with some of the large-scale brain networks dynamics.
An experimental protocol is designed to assess the latter correlation in schizophrenia patients contrasted with healthy controls, looking to shed light on the research question: How is the flow of consciousness related to the kinaesthetic flow? The hypothesis proposed is that there is a common (synchronic) flow between them, which is disturbed in schizophrenia. The hypothesis will be tested through an experimental design: A control study with a sample of 44 patients (n=44), with a diagnosis of schizophrenia Undifferentiated (F20.3 ICD-11, 295.9 DSM-V) no longer than 6-months ago, all patients must be 18 years old or older (18≤) and must not be in a pharmacological treatment nor have actual comorbidities. Patients & healthy controls will be paired by age & sex and an fMRI scan will be done before & after the trials. Each trial will consist on exposing the patient to four everyday life situations and then an interview, the responses are recorded and a conceptual scale is proposed to assess their narratives.
In chronic pain research, the difference between pain and suffering has become a topic of increasing interest (see anonymized (in prep.) for a systematic review). A phenomenological account of this distinction has been put forward by Fredrick Svenaeus (2014), who suggests that suffering is an “alienating mood”, and that pain is one of its manifestations. However, I see the following problem: Svenaeus agrees with Ratcliffe’s (2012) analysis, that moods are based on the world-disclosing function of bodily feelings, but does not indicate, what this is in the case of suffering. My suggestion is that it is the bodily feeling of pain, but this solution is not open for Svenaeus who reduces pain experience to the givenness of the body as an object and fails to describe its foundation on the level of the lived body. I offer such a description, drawing on Husserl’s distinction of “Empfindung” and “Empfindnis” (e.g., Hua XV/324). While most moods are based on bodily feelings that remain in the background of experience, the feeling of pain always pushes to the foreground. Accordingly, there is a fundamental difference between suffering and most other moods. Like all moods, suffering is world-disclosing, but the world of the sufferer is forcefully centered around the suffering body. I discuss the status of this suffering body as lying between lived and object body and quickly address the question how pain-related suffering relates to psychopathological forms of suffering.
More and more, new looks have been casted on autism and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), challenging the current paradigm based on the mind-body dualism (represented by the Theory of Mind, Weak Central Coherence and Executive Function thesis). The current work is guided by the Embodied Mind proposal. This proposal is born based on the phenomenological perspective, on the concept of embodiment explored by Merleau Ponty and Husserl, and more recently by Gallagher, Zahavi, Fuchs and others that connect the neuroscientific knowledge with the phenomenological perspective. From that point of view, people in the autist spectrum are seen as having different forms of embodiment, with different bodily, motor and sensorial experiences compared to neurotypical individuals. The neurodiversity movement and the growing empowerment of autistic people also opens space for better understanding of their experiences, from the first-person point of view. This work seeks to gather self-reports and descriptions of the bodily experiences of autistic individuals, and discuss them from the phenomenological psychopathology’s viewpoint. In order to do so, a self-reported semi-structured questionnaire was elaborated, and the data was analyzed in a qualitative and narrative manner. The results are expected to help us, as healthcare professionals, to better understand the autistic embodiment and contribute to a subject centered clinical approach that values the first-person perspective.
According to Ratcliffe’s proposal, existential feelings are ways of finding oneself in the world and form the affective background that pre-structures a person’s engagement with worldly affairs. As such they are also said to underlie more focused emotional experiences that are directed at particular situations, others or objects. Such a foundational relationship, however, doesn’t preclude single emotional episodes to feedback on the dynamics of existential feeling. In my talk, I focus on precisely this aspect of the relationship between existential feeling and emotion by asking how emotional experiences can disrupt and alter as well as sediment into existential feelings. My aim is to explore and illustrate how ‘emotional performances’, as I label them, can be understood as ways of navigating and re-calibrating one’s own affective standings in the world. Doing so, I suggest, can help to better understand emotional escalations in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. Instead of describing these always in terms of a simple loss of control due to a lack of regulatory capacities, I propose that emotional turmoil qua emotional performance sometimes is best conceived of in terms of desperate attempts at regulating existential feeling. Identifying and contrasting the different ways existential feeling can be modified through emotional performances will furthermore elucidate how embodiment, intercorporeality and interaffectivity feature in the relationship between existential feeling and emotion more generally.
The plasticity of moving in and out of different emotional states allows the individual to adapt adequately, moment to moment, to his environment. However, the lack of perception of the corporeal self through the sensation-movement that is constituted in his behaviors is causing a loss of plasticity and emotional autonomy. This is reflected in the high rates of stress, anxiety and depression in people.
The Cognitive-Corporeal Integration Method (CCIM) is a movement-based contemplative practice, which seeks to develop: 1) proprioceptive perception, 2) intentional movement of focus and division of attention, and 3) synchronization of specific physical and attentional movements of each basic emotion: fear, anger, joy and sadness.
These learning processes generate a greater awareness of oneself in one’s environment, and produce behavioral and experiential changes that lead to greater coherence between feeling, doing and interpreting the lived world. These changes are progressive as a recurrent practice is sustained over time, and are observed in individuals through their bodily changes and the description of their experience during and after the training sessions.
Unlike other strategies of emotional regulation acquired through contemplative practices where a body image is generated from the interpretation of the states of the different parts of the body, the practice of CCIM deals with the living body in movement, updating sensorimotor patterns of basic emotions, experiencing the different global states of the body and thus developing awareness of the corporeal self.
This paper aims to explore an important, however, neglected feature of schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD), namely “double bookkeeping,” and its interrelation to affectivity.
Eugen Bleuler, who coined the notion schizophrenia, observed that patients rather than having simply lost contact with reality, seemed to live simultaneously in two realities (viz. a shared, intersubjective reality and a private, psychotic reality). He termed this core feature double bookkeeping. The phenomenon has since been neglected in mainstream psychiatry, but it has recently been rediscovered in phenomenologically oriented research. These studies, however, mainly focus on double bookkeeping in relation to delusion and the associated notion of belief (Parnas et al. 2021).
This paper presents clinical material from an ongoing qualitative study on double bookkeeping based on semi-structured interviews with 25 persons suffering from SSD. This material supports the idea of double bookkeeping as a comprehensive phenomenon manifesting itself across most psychotic symptoms. Importantly, double bookkeeping seems to articulate itself already in the pre-onset phases of SSD. The paper argues that an emphasis on affectivity (from a phenomenological perspective) may be crucial for a better understanding of this early articulation of double bookkeeping, which can be grasped as an instability in the affective (“auto-affection”) articulation of subjectivity and attunement to the world and others. Awareness of this fundamental feature may improve early detection and intervention, especially psychotherapy.
In their daily practice, psychotherapists generally combine different methods and draw upon common factors. Coherent theoretical models which can explain how different psychotherapeutic methods work together are scarce. We here propose an integrative model of psychotherapy that brings together different psychotherapeutic approaches like interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic-psychoanalytical and existential psychotherapy. The integrative model will be illustrated by a long-term treatment of a patient suffering from borderline personality disorder. Additionally, we try to integrate recent neuroscientific, psychological and cultural findings into the framework of a coherent model of practical psychotherapy. In this interdisciplinary respect, phenomenological concepts of embodiment, intercorporeality and interaffectivity can serve as guiding principles.
In the last two decades, a paradigm shift has taken place in dementia research guided by the embodiment theorem. Against the dominance of a cerebrocentric and cognitivist research paradigm phenomenologists like Pia Kontos, Thomas Fuchs, Christian Tewes, or Lars-Christer Hydén has provided decisive arguments in far-reaching debates, e.g. the preservation of personal identity even in the terminal stages. Nevertheless, the emotional experience of dementia diseases remains largely unexplored. This is precisely where this contribution comes in: In a first step, it aims to explore the implicit foundations of the affective dimension of the lifeworld with regard to the thesis of an existential homelessness in dementia. Apparently, the basic trust (Fuchs) of the lifeworld in the sense of a feeling of belonging (Ratcliffe) becomes gradually lost. In a second step, two therapeutical approaches, that seem to contradict this general thesis, will be used to explore the connection between episodic, semantic and procedural memory in touch with the idea of affective affordances: Firstly, Music and Memory, „that helps individuals with a wide range of cognitive and physical conditions to engage with the world, ease pain, and reclaim their humanity through the use of personalized music” (cf. homepage); and secondly, the Sharing Dance Seniors program, which was evaluated in a study by P. Kontos, among others, but without providing a comprehensive philosophical interpretation. This is precisely where the lecture culminates, sketching the embodied and embedded nature of affective identity.
In the contemporary debate on social cognition, several defenders of the Direct Perception Account maintain that we can have direct perceptual access to the emotions of others by perceiving their bodily expressions, since the latter can be considered as components of the former (Krueger 2018; Overgaard 2012; Krueger and Overgaard 2012; Green 2007, 2010; Newen et al. 2015). Krueger and Overgaard (2012), for instance, maintain that certain emotions have a hybrid structure, constituted both by internal aspects (e.g. the lived experience of the subject) and external ones (the bodily gestures and expressions). In this theoretical line, I will propose that we can aptly consider bodily expressions specifically as non-independent parts – i.e. moments (Husserl 1901) – of the expressed emotions considered as a whole. In this framework, I will also advance the idea that expressed emotions are linked to their bodily expressions specifically by means of motivational connections, as opposed to mere causal ones (Husserl 1952, Stein 1917). Motivational connections are conceived as meaningful relations (Stein 1917, 1922): therefore, the idea is that the very nature and meaning of the expressed emotions account for the displayed expressive behavior. I will show that conceiving bodily expressions as motivated, rather than caused, allows one to account for the fact that bodily expressions can be highly individualized and that, even if often pre-reflectively performed, they do not just passively happen to us but can be more or less endorsed by us, in a personal way.
Phenomenological approaches suggest that ASD involves modifications in intercorporeality and interaffectivity. These changes significantly influence the operation of social perception and consequently determine how the social world unfolds for the autistic subject. Experiencing problems attuning to others’ embodied affectivity, people with autism often have difficulties grasping the context of social events, which impede shared experiences. In this paper, I argue that this alteration in the operation of social perception induces negative feelings and emotions that shape how social spaces are experienced and felt.
My account is inspired by Fuchs’s (2015) observation that typically, people with ASD cannot establish a gestalt perception of social scenes. This phenomenological insight gains support from empirical data that indicates that the atypical socio-perceptual patterns exhibited by people with autism stand in the way of social understanding. Drawing on this evidence, I postulate that in ASD, the relationship between the experience of spaces and changes in social perception may have severe consequences. Failing to perceive the wholeness of the situation due to social perception anomalies people with autism can experience the social space as unfamiliar, confusing, uncertain, and unsafe rather than feeling familiar and understood in the embodied presence of others. Consequently, autistic subjects face problems evaluating the outcomes of hazardous circumstances, which pose a risk to their wellbeing, particularly in borderline situations. This suggestion is illustrated through the tragic occurrences that led to the killing of Eyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian with autism.
If we are to take seriously the bodily resonance of emotions, we must also link this to questions about space and spatiality. Do emotions operate in bodies, or between bodies? Do they travel on the surface of spaces? Or are emotions themselves constitutive of space? Taking on Merleau-Ponty’s concept of flesh (la chair), and emphasizing ist chiasmic structure, we wish to problematize the connection between bodies, emotions, and spaces. This allows one to conceive of an interaffective implication of bodies and spaces, where emotions reverberate always in the criss-crossings of differential incarnations: the chiasmus. Emotions never have a specific locus, either within the body or without. It is better to imagine them as currents or resonances, always moving. They are “e-motions”: always on the move, and moving me, you, and the spaces between and around us. Implicated in the unfolding of bodies in worlds, they pulsate not only in the flesh of incarnations, but also the flesh of space(s). In other words, emotional currents play an important role as primary constituents or ingredients in the ecstatic link between bodies and space. All socio-emotional landscapes emerge chiasmically, i.e., via the coursing or sweeping of emotions through and across bodies and spaces. This begs the question: Are therapeutic spaces territorial canvases that merely bring together detached egos and monadic subjects? Or are they chiasmic configurations, i.e. co-emergent landscapes where emotional healing takes place interaffectively? Via phenomenology, chiasmic orientations can help reframe ‘working alliances’ that have become very important for psychotherapy, so as to understand them as interaffective resonant encounters through which healing spaces may emerge.
Previous studies revealed that borderline diagnosis is a challenge for patients. However, the process of lived experiential adjustment to this diagnosis is both empirically and theoretically unknown. Theoretical concepts describing the structure of the lived experience of time in patients diagnosed with borderline personality, namely immediacy and instantaneity, are still not empirically verified. The aim of this presentation is to phenomenologically describe the process of appropriation of borderline personality disorder diagnosis, to depict its underlying temporal structure and distressing emotional consequences. The presentation is based on semi-structured phenomenological interviews (Giorgi’s Descriptive Phenomenological Psychological method) and Cottle’s Circles Test. We show that the appropriation of BPD diagnosis comprises the following stages: (1) a cumulative feeling of inadequacy, (2) the outburst of diagnosis, (3) the emotional battle of Self fragments. Underlying temporality is marked by intense emotional experiences, in which past and present are over-represented, while the future appears undefined and unknown. We shall argue that to accurately adjust their interventions to the patients’ needs, clinicians should pay more attention to the pathway of identification with diagnosis. Treatment should aim to enhance the patients’ abilities to reflect upon their temporal experience in order to better situate themselves in the process of recovery. In order to reduce the treatment resistance, the internal pathway of diagnosis should be followed.
Both phenomenology and experimental psychology have historically been concerned with the nature of expression. These research traditions originally coincided in early 20th century ‘holistic psychology’ whose main protagonist was Felix Krueger. Yet, mor recent behaviourist and cognitivist investigations do not continue this legacy. This presentation therefore tries to answer three questions: 1. How do the phenomenological and psychological standpoint understand the notion of ‘expression’? A historical review reveals several traditions in both fields of research which partly converge, partly diverge. 2. How do phenomenology and psychology of expression relate? Drawing on Plessner and Buytendijk, one can find a mutual anthropological field of reference. In its core, phenomenology finds the essence of emotions. 3. Is there a perspective for a future of phenomenological psychology of expression? A rejuvenation of this research enterprise primarily requires methodological adaptation. Phenomenological psychology must develop new approaches in order to establish a dialogue with experimental sciences. A mere revitalisation of classic psychology of expression does not promise to succeed in influencing the mainstream of psychology, psychopathology, and psychiatry. The idea of ‘phenomenological pathognomics’ is developed as a proposal which integrates the insights of phenomenology and psychology of expression with contemporary paradigms. It provides experimental psychology with a conceptual framework for the understanding of emotions.
Psychopathology exists in the world of the patient. It is out there it must be grasped conceptually and grappled with therapeutically. This insight the still-dominant cognitive framework misses when it conceptualizes psychopathology as the defective workings of the mind. I ground these often theoretically founded claims in an empirical study of the phenomenology of social anxiety. This disorder I show manifests itself in a powerless and lonesome relationship to the other by examining what it is like to be the socially anxious person in three kinds of situations: at dinner parties, commuting and at home. The dinner party is characterized by feeling like a perpetual outsider to a seamless sociality; commuting by illigimately occupying the space of others; and the home by the eyes and ears of others penetrating it to invade even this last safe harbor of the socially anxious. From this I draw three conclusions: 1) a dissonant interaffectivity when with others accounts for the loneliness of the socially anxious, 2) an inability to claim and demarcate a lived space when among others explains the ‘eremitic’ lifestyle of the socially anxious, 3) these lived experiences are what give rise to the cognitive, behavioral and emotional symptoms of social anxiety. I conclude by highlighting the conceptual advantage of the phenomenological-psychopathological framework compared with the cognitive-behavioral and with remarks on its significance for practical clinical work.
The intention of this article is to “unpack” the role of emotions from a phenomenological perspective with teaching practice-based subjects in higher education, as a case and context. When teaching practice-based subjects, educators’ embodied expressions and personal understanding affect both teachers’ and students’ knowledge production. The academic and the political worlds have a vested interest in understanding and improving methods of teaching and learning in higher education, and concepts such as accountability and performativity are used to indicate quality in education, whereas affectivity, the role of emotions, and embodied knowledge tend to be unterminated. In this presentation the authors investigate the teachers’ body as a knowledge producing and productive resource in teaching practice-based subjects. Analysis of the dialogue between two teachers shows how expressing the intersubjective and subjective dialogues in- and between each of them illuminates qualities such as daring to be a bodily perceptive and emotional being, listening within- and the experience of teaching and learning simultaneously, trusting bodily sensations, and letting the students be who they are. By applying theoretical concepts to teachers’ descriptions of classroom experiences, the presentation contributes perspectives and sheds light on human knowledge in professional relations.
The aim of this contribution is to show the link between emotions and attention from the common ground of embodiment. In order to reach this goal this oral presentation is divided into two main sections: in the first one, I will develop an account of embodied attention by drawing on the resources of classical phenomenological literature to enrich the description of attention typical of neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Embodied attention may be regarded as an ongoing process linked to the temporal structure of bodily intentionality and kinaesthetic activities. I argue that we can distinguish among different layers of attention and the first one is not mental nor cerebral, rather bodily: it is the body that shapes my experience and guides my attention through its kinesthetic ability. Being conceived of as an ongoing act, embodiment manifests a circular structure regarding the cycles of homeostatic self-regulation between the brain and body and the sensorimotor cycles between the brain, body, and environment. In the second section, I will show how emotions play a cardinal role in attentional processes starting from their common embodied character. Far from being only mental phenomena, emotions allow bodily sensations and movement tendencies, unveiling our bodily resonance which acts as the medium of our affective engagement in a situation and connects people with one another in circular interactions. This bodily resonance plays a peculiar role in the phenomenon of joint attention, which crucially implies embodied interaffective components.
My talk aims to present the project and relevant findings of my finished doctoral undertaking in philosophy. It focusses on the experience that emotions can be painful and articulate an injury. It tries to answer the following leading questions: What does »vulnerability« mean? And what is the relation of emotions and vulnerability? The objective of my contribution is to offer a philosophical work on concepts that formulate a meta-theoretical background for practical psychotherapeutic work with clients and a psychotherapy research. The endeavour refers to several contemporary discourses like a Philosophy of Emotions, a Phenomenological Psychopathology and a Theory of Vulnerability, its central authors are Bernhard Waldenfels, Thomas Fuchs and Judith Butler.
The philosophical investigation will develop a concept of vulnerability and characterize the structure of painful emotions. The understanding of vulnerability will be located within the concept of experience by Waldenfels who conceives of it as a »double incident« (Doppelereignis) of Pathos and Response. References to Judith Butler will complement it with impulses of a social ontology and by outlining different registers of human vulnerability. Following the concepts of responsivity and irresponsivity by Waldenfels will enable to differ grades of severity of injuries by depicting whether they limit our abilities for responsivity. An accent on the structure of the emotional ex-perience will explore several respects: first the bodily dimension in which our body serves as the medium of our affectivity; second the cognitive side that illustrates different forms how the generation of meaning can be limited within painful emotions; and third a bodily based generation of meaning that confronts us with a layer of body experience that is able to oppose to reflective cognition.
In her Hiding from Humanity (2004), Martha Nussbaum makes the case for a strong cognitivist account of disgust and shame as, on her view, a description of emotions centered on feelings rather than beliefs generates two aporias: (1) a “kaleidoscopic series of feelings” (27) accompanies the specific emotion-experience that can hardly be unraveled and (2) people differ from one another in the way they feel. To be sure, shame is often difficult to disentangle among a host of co-experienced emotions such as guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation and we could add that even for the same individual the phenomenal character of emotions varies according to time and context. In this paper, I will argue that Nussbaum’s own cognitivist account is not immune to these two objections as beliefs are at once complex, competing, and (inter)subjectively variable. Using the example of shame in Social Anxiety Disorder, I will maintain that rather than an aporia, shame’s embeddedness within a complex of emotions that include fear and anxiety reveals the dynamic nature of our emotional lives. Furthermore, admitting that feelings capture the phenomenal character of emotional experiences is not to concede too much to relativism: as Sartre had foreseen, the feeling of shame includes a structural constancy as it paradigmatically reveals an inescapable self-recognition through the Look of the other (Sartre 2017 , 222). In a final step, I will hold that rather than being incompatible, the cognitivist and phenomenological descriptions are equally fundamental and complementary in assessing our emotional experiences.
Teaching – a bodily and emotional phenomenon
Traditionally, pedagogy has not emphasised the body in teaching, treating mind and body as a dichotomy in which the body is regarded primarily as a subordinate instrument in service of the mind. The body has either been marginalised or rejected as a source of knowledge. More recently, several educational researchers have recognised the value of embodied knowledge and the embodied nature of teaching. Viewing teaching as inherently embodied requires an explicit focus on affective and emotive experiences both in teacher education and in educational research. This may offer new methodological and pedagogical opportunities for exploring and understanding teaching and learning to teach as a bodily and emotional phenomenon.
In this paper we present a micro phenomenological case study of student teachers´ and teacher educator´s bodily, intercorporeal and interaffective experiences in a teaching situation. The data material consists of video recordings and phenomenological interviews. Through Fuchs´ concepts of intercorporeality and interaffectivity and De Jaegher´s concept participatory sense-making, we explore how the interrelations of emotion, embodiment, intercorporeality and interaffectivity is at stake in teaching in primary teacher education. Further, we discuss how embodied knowledge can be included as professional practical knowledge in teacher education.
In addition to a brief look at the recent understanding of adult ADHD, the aim of my paper is to expound emotional problems associated with it. The focus on inattention and hyperactivity/ impulsivity (ICD-10*, DSM-V) neglects intra- and inter-affective problems, even though the latter probably form the most impairing symptoms for most adults with ADHD.
Only recently the complexity of ADHD in adulthood is recognized, and the emotional dimensions of ADHD receive attention in research (e.g., Di Lorenzo et al. 2021, Fayyad et al. 2007, Newcorn et al. 2007, Surman et al. 2013). An adequate understanding of ADHD must consider symptoms of Emotional Dysregulation (ED), which have been overlooked or underestimated for a long time and, some researchers argue, should be included in the list of defining symptoms (e.g., Barkley 2015, Corbisiero et al. 2013, Dodson 2022, Hirsch et al. 2018, Reimherr et al. 2010, Retz et al. 2012).
Besides (comorbid) depression, ADHD adults have long term problems with ED, which manifest as emotional lability, rejection sensivity dysphoria, and deficient emotional self-regulation. These interpersonal problems are aggravated by a temporal decoupling of the ADHD individual from the environment and communication partners (Nielsen 2020). My description, based on biographical and ethnological experience, backed up by experimental and clinical evidence, focuses on the interpersonal dimensions of ED, which I investigate in the context of an inter-affective dynamic (Fuchs and Koch 2014). I will exemplify how emotions that are intertwined with dialogues modulate each other (and escalate), leading to misinterpretations of verbal reactions, outbursts and inter-affective loops.
*Right now, as I am writing this, I have no access to the ICD-11; hence I cannot say whether these three defining domains might have been complemented by symptoms of ED in the ICD-11.
How can the study of values, axiology, help us understand the role of emotions for psychopathology? In 1913, the phenomenologist Scheler coined the neologism valueception (Wertnehmung), an analogous term to perception that designates the apprehension of values through feeling (Fühlen). Albeit overshadowed by the influence of Husserl and Heidegger (Cutting, 2009), Scheler’s emotionalist phenomenology gained traction in the early psychopathological discourse. For instance, Schneider’s (1920) classification of depression as well as von Gebsattel’s (1937) studies on melancholia significantly draw on Scheler’s ideas. In the recent debate, Stanghellini and Ballerini (2007), Sass (2009) and especially Cutting (2016) rejuvenated this tradition of an “Schelerian Psychopathology” (2009; p. 152). In his discussion psychopathological disorders, Cutting suggests conceiving of these as impairments of valueception. For instance, he describes the modus vivendi of persons with schizophrenia as overly focused on personal values and characterised by a “hypertrophy of Geist” (p. 154), resulting in being “divorced from life” (p. 155). While underscoring the importance of impairments of valueception for psychopathology, Guido Cusinato (2018; 2019) criticises Cutting’s conception of them. Instead of being disordered manners of apprehending certain classes of values (personal, vital, etc.), such impairments affect the structure of valueception itself. While schizophrenia does entail are hyperacuteness towards personal values, Cusinato, commenting the case of Paul Schreber, posits that this results from a deeper rooted “‘egocentricity’ in which everything outside of oneself automatically becomes a shadow devoid of its own value” (2018, p. 85). What this schizophrenic egocentricity has in common with, for instance, melancholic insensitivity (“Fühllosigkeit” (Scheler, 1973, p. 25) is that valueception is impaired structurally, weakening “the enactive capacities for sense-making” (Cusinato, 2018, p. 83). Despite there being no doubt that Cutting and Cusinato are pioneers in connecting Scheler’s phenomenology with contemporary psychopathology, Wendt (2019) contends that a truly Schelerian psychopathology remains a scientific desideratum. To this end, it is necessary to overcome the largely philosophical appraisal of disorders of valueception in favour of a transdisciplinary account, to describe additional forms of valueception disorders and to embed them into the broader engagement with alternative, yet related accounts of phenomenological psychopathology, such as affordance-based approaches (de Haan, 2020; Krüger & Colombetti, 2018). Further developing the concept of disorders of valueception from an axiological perspective allows to systematically understand emotionality in psychopathology.