On the notion of psychosis: semantic and epistemic concerns

J. Adan-Manes (1), P. Ramos-Gorostiza (2)

1 Centro de Salud Mental de Chamartin, La Princesa Hospital, Madrid, Spain; 2 Psychiatry Department, La Princesa Hospital, Madrid, Spain

In spite of its frequent and apparently unproblematic use, the meaning of the term “psychosis” remains largely unclear. Throughout this paper we will analyse some of the reasons underlying psychiatry’s failure to define the notion of psychosis in a clear and unambiguous fashion, highlighting the inadequacy of a natural-scientific framework (inherited by psychiatry through its development as a medical discipline) when dealing with subjective experience. Following a longstanding trend in psychopathology, we will argue for the need to follow a hermeneutical approach, which is both perspectival and theory-laden. In order to prevent arbitrariness or a crude relativism, we will describe the notion of “hermeneutic objectivity” as an epistemic construct aimed at legitimising psychiatric judgement and its pretension of truth.

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