Existenz Menu
An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts
ISSN 1932-1066


Volume 6, No. 1, Spring2011

World Philosophy, Axial Age, and Psychiatry

The Biopsychosocial Model in Psychiatry: A Critique
S. Nassir Ghaemi | Tufts Medical Center

In the United States, the basic concepts of psychiatry have involved the opposing dogmatisms of psychoanalytic orthodoxy and biological reductionism. An alternative basic conceptual scheme, the biopsychosocial model (BPS), arose in the last decade and now represents the status quo. By providing a conceptual review of the strengths and limitations of the BPS in psychiatry, and identifying the limitations of the BPS model the author concludes that its limitations seem to outweigh its benefits. Suggestions for a non-eclectic pluralist model of psychiatry, based on the ideas of Karl Jaspers, are made.

Homeopathy As A Model For Patient-Centered Medical Care
Brigitte Essl | Private Practice, Mill Valley

Commenting on S. Nasssir Ghaemi's The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model, this essay paints a broad perspective through the landscape of the patient–doctor dyad in the current models of biomedical and biospychosocial medicine. I explore the holistic understanding of the patient–practitioner relationship in the context of homeopathic medicine and relate it to Ghaemi's interpretation of the Jaspersian concept Verstehen in relation to the biopsychosocial model (BPS). I propose that there is value in acknowledging the role of our human interconnectedness with the environment for staging the debates about disease and its relation to the medical sciences. For the body–mind–psyche continuum to be acknowledged, medical practitioners will gain relevant insights when they approach a patient with a collaborative attitude, fostering introspection, and maintaining an openness to expand their clinical art and science with a contemporary view on community, culture, and global awareness.

The Biopsychosocial Model Is Not A Strawman:
How Jaspers' Phenomenology Opens The Way To A Paradigm Shift In Psychiatry

Michael A. Schwartz | Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Medicine, Austin State Hospital
Aaron L. Mishara | The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Osborne P. Wiggins | University of Louisville

Inheriting the nineteenth century division between the natural- and human-historical sciences, Karl Jaspers emphasizes the psychological understanding of mental disorders as narrative-based, holistic and contextual. However, he also affirms the value of explanatory physiological and neurobiological approaches. Nassir Ghaemi nonetheless interprets Jaspers person-centered, methodologically based pluralism as contradicting George Engel's biopsychosocial project. In our view, Jaspers advances this project. Emphatically, Engel proposed a project and not a product. We have tried to develop a narrative somewhat different than Ghaemi's, with a synergistic consequence, a biopsychosocial model for medicine and psychiatry indebted to both Jaspers and Engel. It is our conclusion that Jaspers' person-centered, methodological pluralism does not contradict biopsychosocial medicine and psychiatry but in fact complements and advances the broader medical model that Engel sought but never achieved.

Vision Beyond the Cave: The Psychiatry of S. Nassir Ghaemi
Ed Mendelowitz | Saybrook University, San Francisco

This commentary on Nassir Ghaemi's The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model is offered as an elaborative piece, briefly touching on tangents and tributaries suggested by the book itself. Ghaemi's text is immersed in the work of a sort of theoretical brush removal, clearing thereby a path for a vision of what psychiatry (and, by extension, the enterprise of psychotherapy) might one day conceivably become. The present piece is a sympathetic reverie on an intellectually impressive and ethically principled work. Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra is its literary touchstone, William Arrowsmith's notion of "creative criticism" its inspiration and attempted goal.

The Eternity of Every Present Time
Stefano Blasi | University of Turin, Italy

Starting from the Encompassing as it is defined in Von der Wahrheit, I propose to analyse the polarity between positive (Being-in-itself) and negative (finitude) as an attempt to recast the ontological difference. This cannot be defined as the opposition between eternal and temporary but is to be interpreted as a disequation between the part and the whole. Thus, considering every entity of the Encompassing (das Umgreifende), one cannot say that there was a time when the Encompassing was not and a time when it will no longer exist (unless one admits that the Encompassing is lacking in something). The isolating point of view of scientific thinking separates entity from the Encompassing and thinks about it as exposed to nothing. Following the law of Being, existence shows the eternity of every present-time in the eternal and clarifies the becoming as the simple manifestation of truth and not as the fall of finite into nothing.

Commentary on The Eternity of Every Present Time
Helmut Wautischer | Sonoma State University

This commentary on Stefano Blasi's The Eternity of Every Present Time was presented at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Boston, 2010.

Iraqi Model of Pluralism: How Philosophy Can Contribute to Resolving the Ideological Conflict in Iraq
Rawaa Mahmoud Hussain| Iraqi University, Baghdad

The issue of pluralism is thorny and complex, and it is not possible to write about it completely, relating to its theoretical dimensions and the potential possibilities of its implementation, in a comprehensive manner, regarding to Iraqi society, because of the complexities inherent in the subject of the study, i.e., the Iraqi society itself. Our road map for an Iraqi pluralism is based, in fact, on a number of guidelines principles of humanitarian, philosophical and social elements that has been completed by the modern philosophical thought, regarding to the dialectical relationship among human, society and state.


Founding Editors
Alan M. Olson
Helmut Wautischer

Spring / Fall

Sponsored by
Karl Jaspers Society
of North America
Boston, MA

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