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date: 10 April 2020

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

“Madness,” the Oxford philosopher Anthony Quinton commented in a lecture to the British Academy published in 1985, “is a subject that ought to interest philosophers; but they have had surprisingly little to say about it.” What a difference three decades have made! As the contributions to this book so richly illustrate, there is nowadays hardly a psychiatric stone that philosophers have left unturned. Nor is the trade one-way. If philosophers are now interested in psychiatric research and practice, so, too, are researchers and practitioners—including an increasingly vocal and effective service user community— interested in philosophy.

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry brings together what we hope is a representative cross-section of the new field. Like other Oxford Philosophy Handbooks, it is written mainly by philosophers for philosophers. In this respect it balances other contributions to the book series with which it is co-branded, the IPPP (International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry) series: The Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry, for example, is oriented more towards practice. Yet this Handbook, although primarily philosophical in focus, incorporates a number of novel features reflecting the lively dynamic between theory and practice that is such a distinctive characteristic of the new field. Thus a number of our contributors are practitioners and empirical researchers as well as philosophers; others write from first-hand experience of mental disorder; and the book as a whole is structured around the stages of the clinical encounter rather than within traditional philosophical disciplines. Nor are the Handbook’s ambitions in this respect merely colligative. As we describe more fully in our introductory Chapter 1, the Handbook is supported by a website ( of narrative and other case-based materials offering what we hope will be a unique one-stop resource for philosophers entering the field.

A project as complex and ambitious as The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry would have been impossible without the combined skills of many, and diversely talented, people. Our thanks go first to our contributors to both the book and the website: each and every one has been wonderfully generous with their time and commitment in responding to the editorial challenges of synthesis and integration across the book as a whole. Our thanks go also to the members of our International Advisory Board who made many crucial suggestions in the early stages of planning the book and have given continuing support throughout. Our two graduate researchers, Will Davies and Gemma Copsey, showed great skill and dedication and we are grateful to them for their crucial work respectively on an initial literature review and on the development of the website. George Graham was ably supported by Casey Landers. We are grateful also to David Crepaz-Keay, Jayasree Kalathil, Toby Williamson, and others at the Mental Health Foundation, a voluntary sector organization that in uniquely combining policy and service user perspectives has brought an important additional dimension to the book and its supporting website. And all of us, finally, editors and contributors alike, are grateful to the publishing team at Oxford University Press who (p. vi) have gone way beyond the merely professional in their commitment to the project: our thanks go particularly to Martin Baum and Peter Momtchiloff whose collaboration as commissioning editors respectively for psychiatry (and related areas) and philosophy made the book possible; to Abigail Stanley and to Beth McAllister and their respective production and marketing teams; and to Charlotte Green as project lead for her boundless energy and for her consistently good humoured and problem-solving approach.

No single volume however compendious can hope to capture, still less keep up with, every important development in this vigorously expanding field. The IPPP series will continue to publish cutting edge work. Future Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy will offer further state-of-the-art collections: the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Psychiatric Ethics was conceived as a sister volume to this book; and there are clear gaps in the market for future Handbooks covering the relationships between psychopathology and such areas as phenomenology and the cognitive and neurosciences. But thirty years on from Quinton’s prescient lecture our hope is that the publication of this book in what is the centenary of Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology will help to secure the place of psychiatry as a subject that is and remains permanently among the interests of philosophers.