Narrative, self-understanding and the regulation of emotion in psychiatric disorder

October 12, 2012 - October 13, 2012
Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London

United Kingdom


  • Australian Research Council
  • Mind and Language

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Many if not most psychiatric disorders are characterised by an inability to regulate, tolerate, or respond appropriately to feelings. Often patients with these problems will give an account of their affective states and motives which takes the form of a narrative which assimilates salient affective episodes into a more or less coherent autobiography.

In this respect patients do not differ from non-patients. It seems most people rely on a narrative framework to interpret episodes of feeling by assimilating them to a story in which the subject is, if not the star, at least a major protagonist. The problem for patients is often not that they have false beliefs (although they do) but that their stories are dysfunctional in the broadest sense of the term.

Consequently understanding psychiatric disorders involves understanding the nature of narrative, its role in interpreting feeling states and shaping behaviour. This conference examines that idea in the context of recent philosophical work on narrative. The resurgence of interest in narrative in philosophy has thrown up a number of themes of direct relevance to psychiatry. At the same time philosophy in this area needs to be informed by a much deeper engagement with clinical and experimental work.


DAY 1. 12 October 2012

9:30. Arrival, Registration.

10-12 Session 1 Feeling and Narrative 

Matthew Ratcliffe: Feelings
Greg Currie: Narratives

1-3 Session 2 Feelings, Selves and Narratives: Case studies 
Konrad Michel: Depression
Giancarlo DiMaggio: Personality Disorders

3:30-5:30 Session 3

Hanna Pickard: Philosophical reflections
Matthew Broome: A Psychiatric perspective

DAY 2 . 13 October 2012

Session 1 9:30-11:30 Children’s understanding and regulation of feeling 

Paul Harris: the child’s understanding of feeling
Marc de Rosnay: the child’s regulation of feeling

Session 2 12-1 The adult consequences: ASD

Gwen Adshead: 'Tall tales and horror stories: narratives of offending'

Session 3 1:30-3:30 Narrative psychiatry

Philip Gerrans: Delusion and narrative
Charles Fernyhough: Narrative and Memory

Final Session 4-5:30

Lisa Bortolotti: Philosophy and Psychiatry
Jon Jureidini: Reflections and general discussion.


Gregory Currie: [email protected]
Philip Gerrans: [email protected]
Jon Jureidini :  [email protected]

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