Silence and psychopathology

September 1, 2023
Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol

Hepple Lecture Theatre
School of Geographical Sciences, University Road
Bristol BS8 1SS
United Kingdom

This event is available both online and in-person

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Silence is an important phenomenon in the context of psychopathology. For example, the DSM-5-TR counts it as a symptom of several diagnoses, including Major Depressive Disorder and other disorders that involve depressive episodes. An influential strand of mental health research argues that silence in the form of self-silencing is a key cause of depression and potentially other mental disorders as well. Moreover, many psychotherapists, particularly those taking Freudian approaches, understand some types of patient silence as an obstacle to successful treatment.

Despite this, philosophers of psychiatry have paid little attention to the role of silence in psychopathology. When silence has been thematized in the philosophical literature, it has usually been as the outcome of social silencing. In recent years, for instance, scholars working on epistemic injustice have elucidated how various aspects of psychiatry – such as diagnoses, treatments, the doctor-patient relationship, and mental health stigma – can silence those who have been diagnosed with or show symptoms of mental disorder. This is important work to be sure. However, the other ways in which silence can feature in psychopathology have been underexplored. That includes silence as a symptom of, a cause of, or an obstacle to treating psychopathology, or, for that matter, as a positive or empowering experience.

The purpose of this workshop is to begin to address this neglect by exploring the different faces of silence in psychopathology.

Speakers and topics

  • Ian Kidd (Nottingham) - 'Varieties of silence in grief'
  • Richard Stupart (Liverpool) - 'Failing to bear witness and moral injury: The case of journalism\
  • Sam Wilkinson (Exeter) - 'Inner speech and mental health'
  • Anna Bortolan (Swansea) - 'Filling the silence: On self-experience and communication in social anxiety'
  • Dan Degerman (Bristol) - 'Phenomenology, silence and depression'

We hope that you will be able to join us in person. But if you can't, the workshop will also be streamed online via Zoom. Please use the following link to join us there:

If you want to attend in person, please register at:

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September 1, 2023, 9:00am BST

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University of Central Lancashire
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