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Language, Suffering, and the Question of Immanence: Toward a Respectful Phenomenological Psychopathology

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This paper explores the status of language and suffering in recovery from psychosis from a transcendentally-informed phenomenological perspective. We suggest that each of these concepts can apply both to the illness itself and to the person with the illness. The relationship between the two will be one focus of this discussion. The other focus will be on the various ways in which phenomenological approaches to psychopathology have understood the nature of this relationship; a relationship characterized by different meanings of the term "immanence." Drawing inspiration from a Borges poem and from Husserl's debate with Heidegger over the content of his "Phenomenology" article for the Encyclopedia Britannica, we argue that it is misleading, as well as unhelpful, to continue to focus on deficits and dysfunction while ignoring the person's hopes, strengths, assets, and agency. As long as there remains no cure for psychosis, we conclude that it is more effective to promote recovery among people with psychosis than to remain focused on reducing, minimizing, or eliminating their disorder.


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