Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a phenomenological account of impaired agency in depression. It begins by briefly considering some first-person descriptions of how depression affects the ability to act, which point to an altered "experience of free will." Although it is often assumed that we have such an experience, it is far from clear what it consists of. The chapter argues that this lack of clarity is symptomatic of looking in the wrong place. Drawing on themes in Sartre's Being and Nothingness, it is suggested that the sense of freedom associated with action is not-first and foremost-an episodic "quale" or "feeling" that is experienced as internal to the agent. Rather, it is embedded in the experienced world; my freedom appears in the guise of my surroundings. This makes better sense of what people with depression consistently describe-a diminished ability to act that is inextricable from a transformation of the experienced world. In addition to illuminating an aspect of the experience of depression, the chapter aims to illustrate something more general: how phenomenology and psychiatry can interact in a fruitful way.

Keywords: action, depression, experience, freedom, horizon, possibility, significance

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.