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date: 27 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Phenomenological psychopathology and psychiatric ethics are intimately related. The argument of this chapter is that phenomenological psychopathology makes it evident that ethical considerations are not merely an external normative perspective on psychiatry, but fundamental to the experience of mental illness, and as such critical to the medical understanding of what a mental illness is. Norms and values orient human existence, and our endeavor to make sense of and cure the mental suffering of a person involves a clarification of what the person cares about. A phenomenological approach can help us understand that a sense of autonomy is constitutive of human self-awareness, and the demand of responsibility central to human identity. In fact, the dialectics of autonomy and responsibility discloses the fragile character of human identity, and examining this fragility will allow us to see that a person’s mental suffering cannot be understood in isolation from her ideas about the good life.

Keywords: autonomy, responsibility, fragility, ethics, norm, value, care, the good life, cure

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