Two Conceptions of Perturbed Subjectivity from Classical Indian Medicine: A Comparative Contribution to Psychiatric Phenomenology – University of Copenhagen

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Two Conceptions of Perturbed Subjectivity from Classical Indian Medicine: A Comparative Contribution to Psychiatric Phenomenology

CFS Lecture by Ram-Prasad Chakravarthi, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, UK.

Title: Two Conceptions of Perturbed Subjectivity from Classical Indian Medicine: A Comparative Contribution to Psychiatric Phenomenology

Abstract:
An authoritative classical Indian medical and philosophical text offers two different notions of perturbed subjectivity, one directly translatable from Sanskrit as ‘mental illness’ and the other with the same root word as ‘madness’. The former pertains to incapacity of judgement, inconstancy of conduct and other failures of a well-led life, whereas the latter concerns physiological malfunction and exogenously wrought stresses. Consequently, the treatment recommended on the path back to wellness is different in each case, although they both combine a range of factors meant to transform the phenomenology of illness. However, since this conceptualisation of psychiatry is set against a metaphysics of the subject that is neither materialist nor dualist, we are faced with a fundamentally different understanding of the categories of mind, body, and subjectivity. I describe this understanding as an ecological phenomenology. The general approach to the subject and the specific medical situation of perturbed subjectivity together offer an interestingly different angle to psychiatric phenomenology than might be found in contemporary Western discussions.

The lecture is open to all. Everyone is welcome!