Sanneke de Haan visits Felix & Sofie

Rotterdamlezing: vanaf balkon Arminiuskerk
foto van Sanneke de Haan
Sietske Arnoldus

On Wednesday January 18th, Sanneke de Haan, Socrates Professor of Psychiatry & Philosophy, visited Felix & Sofie in Amsterdam to discuss the position of the self in psychiatry. Felix & Sofie is an organisation that provides a physical stage for philosophy on a monthly basis, in Amsterdam. Read along for an overview of the event.

The status we assign to a diagnosis can affect how we think about ourselves. Does a diagnosis have the same degree of reality as a broken bone? Or are diagnoses problematic 'labels' that maintain the distinction between normal and undesirable behaviour? Is a disorder something you have to get rid of? Or can a diagnosis also provide comfort by helping us find peers or learn to accept ourselves?

As a human being, you can find stability in ideas about who you are, what you consider important and who you belong to. Words like 'friend', 'student' or 'ADD-er' do not give a complete description of someone, but together with the stories you tell about yourself, they can give a self-image. You hear this idea of a self reflected when someone says they don't feel like themselves. Yet it is often all too difficult to distinguish between the self and a disorder.

The language used by psychiatry also influences how we think about treatment. Someone with psychosis is 'mentally ill'. This implies that we should not have to listen to delusions: not only are they not real, but also something we should get rid of. Does this imply that people who believe in conspiracy theories are also mentally ill? After all, they also meet the same qualification of having lost touch with reality. Where a person's character, identity and personality end and where a diagnosis begins is often hard to say.

This evening, we hope to blur and thereby also enrich the distinction between the normal and the abnormal. For perhaps our view on psychoses can also tell us something about how we think about ourselves.

More information

For more information, see this link of Felix & Sofie.

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