Helene Borregaard Stephensen

Helene Borregaard Stephensen


I am a philosophy PhD fellow with the Center for Subjectivity research (CFS) at the University of Copenhagen. I have an MA in philosophy and have subsequently worked at a psychiatric hospital where I obtained a degree in psychotherapy and training in conducting clinical interviews.


Current research

My project concerns the phenomenon “double bookkeeping,” i.e., the sense of existing simultaneously in two disjoint realities; one of shared everyday reality and then the reality of delusional experience. This will be investigated through a combination of qualitative interviews with patients suffering from schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) on one hand and critical engagement with philosophical notions on the other. The project is supervised by prof. Josef Parnas and assoc. prof. Søren Overgaard and the interviews are conducted in close collaboration with Annick Urfer-Parnas, MD, PhD. 

Double bookkeeping is crucial for understanding the paradoxical nature of psychosis and its mode of onset and expression but has nevertheless been neglected in mainstream psychiatry. In recent phenomenological-oriented research, the importance of the phenomenon has been emphasized as it has been suggested to be linked with the core disturbance of SSD (viz. self-disorders).

In line with this research, the idea is that double bookkeeping can be understood as an alteration of basic existential and intersubjective dispositions. From this existential-phenomenological perspective, it is possible to conceptualize the distinct way the overall status of reality is altered in psychotic experience. The significance of such an account is three-fold: 1) to arrive at a better understanding of the fundamental disorder of SSD; 2) to provide clinicians with a description of this phenomenon in a graspable manner, ameliorating communication and minimizing the risk of treatment noncompliance; 3) to conduct more adequate psychotherapy, focusing on enabling a balance between the two realities.

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