e-book The Disordered Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Mental Illness

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Each topic is clearly explained and placed in a clinical and philosophical context. Mental disorders discussed include clinical depression, dissociative identity disorder, anxiety, religious delusions, and paranoia. Several non-mental neurological disorders that possess psychological symptoms are also examined, including Alzheimer's disease, Down's syndrome, and Tourette's syndrome.

Containing chapter summaries and suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter, The Disordered Mind, second edition is a superb introduction to the philosophy of mental disorder for students of philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and related mental health professions.

We need to know about the specific forms of being worse off that illnesses involve. Suppose I am very inattentive, and I often forget things or miss deadlines, and my life goes worse than it might as a result. Am I mentally disordered with a gummed up mind, or just absentminded? The overall framework is defended in chapter four against various sorts of scepticism. Metaphysical sceptics think that a distinctively mental account of mental illness, as opposed to a reductive, physical account, is untenably dualistic.

Moral sceptics are Szaszians, who think that diagnosing someone with a mental illness is just the imposition of an arbitrary value judgement. Graham defends a nonreductive physicalism against the metaphysical sceptic. Against the moral sceptic, he argues that mental illness and somatic illness are on a par. It is not that medicine is value-neutral while psychiatry is normative, but that both are normative. Since medicine in general is "evaluative or normative through and through" p.

The presence of evaluative assumptions in medicine is clear enough.

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However, many theorists have argued that to call something a disease involves both a judgment that some organ system is dysfunctional and a judgment that the consequences are bad for the sufferer, and that judgments of the first kind are not normative -- or at least, that norms governing natural function of physical systems are of a different kind than the moral or political norms involved in judgments that a dysfunction is harmful for its owner. This might not be correct, but Graham doesn't really talk about it.

If the outcome of a physical process is bad for you in distinctive ways, then it is a disease, he thinks, regardless of the status of the system. Furthermore, as we have seen, Graham goes on to argue that the picture of human nature relevant to psychiatry is an explicitly philosophical one, based on a conception of human flourishing. The moral skeptic can argue in return that there is still a big difference in this picture between psychiatry and somatic medicine. The latter rests on well-established scientific findings whereas psychiatry is based on a philosophical account of the capacities needed for human flourishing.

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Graham's view is that the human capacities he picks out are those that we would choose behind a veil of ignorance. They are the ones that we are bound to need no matter what life we decide to pursue.

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But this is contestable. Suppose I decide that a human life would go a lot more smoothly, with much less suffering, if I just did not care for others at all, or that on balance I might be much more successful if I had the kind of psychology that subordinated everything to work.


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Certainly, if you have decided that caring for others is a component of the good life -- or if you are just stuck with caring for others, because that's how human beings are - then interference with the capacity for care will be harmful and stressing. But there are lots of respectable philosophical antecedents for the idea that the less engaged you are with the world, the better.

Graham assumes that nobody would choose to be a successful, prudent sociopath, but if material gain and worldly power are at the centre of your ambitions, then why not? At the heart of the book is a moral vision of the best life for a human being -- an objective theory of well-being. Mental disorders are the psychological impairments to attaining that good life. The last component of Graham's big picture is a theory of the connection between rationality and intentionality.

The thesis of rationality in intentionality p.


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  • For something to count as an intentional state it needs to be related to other intentional states in the right way. However, we think that to do some of the philosophical work he expects from his theory of how the mind works Graham also needs a theory of rational warrant that evaluates how contents get in to the mind, and not just an account of transitions among states of mind. In mental disorders, Graham thinks, the rational relationships between contents are disrupted by mechanical processes. The rational works are gummed up by mechanical processes. But the details of this story are hard to see.

    At times Graham talks as though rational and mechanical processes are both causes of mental illnesses, and at other times he talks as though the abnormal rational processes constitute the symptoms of mental illness. These let us comprehend the experience of the disorder, but their upstream causes are mechanical. We take it that Graham thinks the former -- that it is a necessary condition of mental disorders that they have a brute cause.

    For example, he says that wishful thinking doesn't count, even though it is irrational, because the causes of wishful thinking are intentional states like desires, and not mechanical processes p. On the other hand, we are less clear whether he thinks that intentional causes are necessarily in the mix too. He does say p.

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    But if mental illness has to have a mix of mechanical and intentional causes then some paradigmatic conditions look as though they might be left out of the picture. It is unclear, for example, whether mood disorders always have intentional causes. The Disordered Mind: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Mental Illness, second edition examines and explains, from a philosophical standpoint, what mental disorder is: its reality, causes, consequences, and more. It is also an outstanding introduction to philosophy of mind from the perspective of mental disorder.

    Revised and updated throughout, this second edition includes new discussions of grief and psychopathy, the problems of the psychophysical basis of disorder, the nature of selfhood, and clarification of the relation between rationality and mental disorder. Each chapter explores a central question or problem about mental disorder, including:. Each topic is clearly explained and placed in a clinical and philosophical context.

    George Graham (Georgia State University) - PhilPeople

    Mental disorders discussed include clinical depression, dissociative identity disorder, anxiety, religious delusions, and paranoia. Containing chapter summaries and suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter, The Disordered Mind, second edition is a superb introduction to the philosophy of mental disorder for students of philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and related mental health professions.

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