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  • 1.
    Bornemark, Jonna
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    The genesis of empathy in human development: a phenomenological reconstruction2014In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 17, no 2, p. 259-268Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In phenomenology, theories of empathy are intimately connected with the question of how it is possible to have insight into the mind of the other person. In this article, the author wants to show why it is self-evident for us that the other person is having experiences. In order to do so, it is not enough to discuss the phenomenon of empathy with a starting point in the already constituted adult person; instead the article presents a genetic approach to human development. The author thus contrasts Edith Stein's discussion of Einfühlung (empathy), which takes its starting point in the experience of the grown-up, with Max Scheler's discussion of Einsfühlung (feeling of oneness), where the relation between mother and infant is taken as one example. Maurice Merleau-Ponty's discussion of the world of the infant is read as one way of developing Scheler's theory of intersubjectivity and of Einsfühlung. This genetic approach is developed further into a phenomenological analysis of the experience of the fetus and of birth. The author argues that the analysis of the fetus highlights the distinction between knowing that another person is having experiences, and knowing the specific content of the other person's experiences. The fetus does not experience different persons, but has a pre-subjective experience of life that includes what is later experienced as belonging to "another." Later in life, the experience of empathy, as an experience of a specific content, can be developed from this experience. In this way empathy and Einsfühlung can be understood as complementary rather than as competing phenomena.

  • 2. Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Das unheimliche: towards a phenomenology of illness2000In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 3, no 1, p. 3-16Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article I aim at developing a phenomenology of illness through a critical interpretation of the works of Sigmund Freud and Martin Heidegger. The phenomenon of "Unheimlichkeit"--uncanniness and unhomelikeness--is demonstrated not only to play a key role in the theories of Freud and Heidegger, but also to constitute the essence of the experience of illness. Two different modes of unhomelikeness--"The mind uncanny" and "The world uncanny"--are in this connection explored as constitutive parts of the phenomenon of illness. The consequence I draw from this analysis is that the mission of health care professionals must be not only to cure diseases, but actually, through devoting attention to the being-in-the-world of the patient, also to open up possible paths back to homelikeness. This mission can only be carried out if medicine acknowledges the basic importance of the meaning-realm of the patient's life--his or her life-world characteristics.

  • 3.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Diagnosing mental disorders and saving the normal: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th ed. American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, DC. 991 pp., ISBN: 978-0890425558. Price: $122.702014In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 17, no 2, p. 241-244Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 4.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Communication, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Do antidepressants affect the self?: A phenomenological approach2007In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 153-66Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, I explore the questions of how and to what extent new antidepressants (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) could possibly affect the self. I do this by way of a phenomenological approach, using the works of Martin Heidegger and Thomas Fuchs to analyze the roles of attunement and embodiment in normal and abnormal ways of being-in-the-world. The nature of depression and anxiety disorders - the diagnoses for which treatment with antidepressants is most commonly indicated - is also explored by way of this phenomenological approach, as are the basic structures of self-being. Special attention is paid in the analysis to the moods of boredom, anxiety and grief, since they play fundamental roles in depression and anxiety disorders and since their intensity and frequency appear to be modulated by antidepressants. My conclusion is that the effect of these drugs on the self can be thought of in terms of changes in self-feeling, or, more precisely, self-vibration of embodiment. I present the idea of a spectrum of bodily resonance, which extends from the normal resonance of the lived body, in which the body is able to pick up a wide range of different moods; continuing over various kinds of sensitivities, preferences and idiosyncrasies, in which certain moods are favored over others; to cases that we unreservedly label pathologies, in which the body is severely out of tune, or even devoid of tune and thus useless as a tool of resonance. Different cultures and societies favor slightly differently attuned self-styles as paradigmatic of the normal and good life, and the popularity of the SSRIs can therefore be explained, not only by defects of embodiment, but also by the presence of certain cultural norms in our contemporary society.

  • 5.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Empathy as a necessary condition of phronesis: a line of thought for medical ethics2014In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 17, no 2, p. 293-299Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Empathy is a thing constantly asked for and stressed as a central skill and character trait of the good physician and nurse. To be a good doctor or a good nurse one needs to be empathic-one needs to be able to feel and understand the needs and wishes of patients in order to help them in the best possible way, in a medical, as well as in an ethical sense. The problem with most studies of empathy in medicine is that empathy is poorly defined and tends to overlap with other related things, such as emotional contagion, sympathy, or a caring personality in general. It is far from clear how empathy fits into the general picture of medical ethics and the framework of norms that are most often stressed there, such as respect for autonomy and beneficience. How are we to look upon the role and importance of empathy in medical ethics? Is empathy an affective and/or cognitive phenomenon only, or does it carry moral significance in itself as a skill and/or virtue? How does empathy attain moral importance for medicine? In this paper I will attempt to show that a comparison with the Aristotelian concept of phronesis makes it easier to see what empathy is and how it fits into the general picture of medical ethics. I will argue that empathy is a basic condition and source of moral knowledge by being the feeling component of phronesis, and, by the same power, it is also a motivation for acting in a good way.

  • 6.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Communication, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Illness as Unhomelike Being-in-the-World: Heidegger and the Phenomenology of Medicine2011In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 14, no 3, p. 333-343Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, an attempt is made to develop an understanding of the essence of illness based on a reading of Martin Heidegger’s pivotal work Being and Time. The hypothesis put forward is that a phenomenology of illness can be carried out by highlighting the concept of otherness in relation to meaningfulness. Otherness is here to be understood as a foreignness that permeates the ill life when the lived body takes on alien qualities. A further specification of this kind of otherness can be found by the concept of unhomelike being-in-the-world. Health, in contrast to this frustrating unhomelikeness, is a homelike being-in-the-world in which the lived body in most cases has a transparent quality as the point of access to the world in understanding activities. The paper then proposes that the temporal structure of illness can be conceptualized as an alienation of past and future, whereby one’s past and future appear alien, compared with what was the case before the onset of illness. The remainder of the paper follows two paths as regards the temporality of illness. The first path explores the temporality of the body in relation to the temporality of the being-in-the-world of the self. One way of understanding the alienating character of illness is that nature, as the temporality of our bodies, ceases to obey our attempts to make sense of phenomena: the time of the body no longer fits into the time of the self. The second path explored in the paper is the one of narrativity. When we make sense of the present, in relation to our future and past, we do so in a special manner, namely, by structuring our experiences in the form of stories. Illness breaks in on us as a rift in these stories, necessitating a retelling of the past and a re-envisioning of the future, in an effort to address and change their alienated character. These stories, however, never allow us to leave the silent otherness of our bodies behind. They are stories nurtured by the time of nature at the heart of our existence. It is then claimed that the idea of life being a story must be understood in a metaphorical sense and an exploration of how phenomenology addresses the metaphoric quality of its conceptuality is ushered. It is pointed out that metaphors can be systematically related to each other and that they always have a founding ground in the orientation and basic activities of the lived body. If the concepts used in working out a phenomenological theory of health and illness are, to a certain extent, metaphorical, one could, therefore, nevertheless, claim that the metaphoric qualities of the phenomenological concepts are primary in referring back to the lived body and the way it inhabits the world.

  • 7.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Communication, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Medical technologies and the life world: an introduction to the theme2009In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 121-123Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 8.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, Institutionen för medier, konst och filosofi, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Phenomenological ethics: Potentials and pitfalls: Review article2004In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 7, no 1, p. 109-112Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Phenomenology of pregnancy and the ethics of abortion2018In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 77-87Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article I investigate the ways in which phenomenology could guide our views on the rights and/or wrongs of abortion. To my knowledge very few phenomenologists have directed their attention toward this issue, although quite a few have strived to better understand and articulate the strongly related themes of pregnancy and birth, most often in the context of feminist philosophy. After introducing the ethical and political contemporary debate concerning abortion, I introduce phenomenology in the context of medicine and the way phenomenologists have understood the human body to be lived and experienced by its owner. I then turn to the issue of pregnancy and discuss how the embryo or foetus could appear for us, particularly from the perspective of the pregnant woman, and what such showing up may mean from an ethical perspective. The way medical technology has changed the experience of pregnancy-for the pregnant woman as well as for the father and/or other close ones-is discussed, particularly the implementation of early obstetric ultra-sound screening and blood tests (NIPT) for Down's syndrome and other medical defects. I conclude the article by suggesting that phenomenology can help us to negotiate an upper time limit for legal abortion and, also, provide ways to determine what embryo-foetus defects to look for and in which cases these should be looked upon as good reasons for performing an abortion.

  • 10.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Communication, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    Psychopharmacology and the Self: An Introduction to the Theme2007In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 115-117Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 11. Svenaeus, Fredrik
    The body uncanny: further steps towards a phenomenology of illness.2000In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 3, no 2, p. 125-37Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article is an attempt to analyse the experience of embodiment in illness. Drawing upon Heidegger's phenomenology and the suggestion that illness can be understood as unhomelike being-in-the-world, I try to show how the way we live our own bodies in illness is experienced precisely as unhomelike. The body is alien, yet, at the same time, myself. It involves biological processes beyond my control, but these processes still belong to me as lived by me. This a priori otherness of the body presents itself in illness in an uncanny and merciless way. The unhomelike breakdown of our everyday being-in-the-world suffered in illness is explored through Heidegger's notion of the world being a "totality of relevance", a pattern of meaning played out between different "tools". The lived body is compared to a broken tool that alters and obstructs our way of being "thrown" and "projecting" ourselves in the meaning patterns of the world through feelings, thoughts and actions. The similarities and differences between this unhomelikeness of illness and the specific unhomelikeness of authentic understanding, reached according to Heidegger in existential anxiety, are discussed. In order to illustrate how the lived body can present itself as "broken" and "other" to its owner, and in what way this unhomelike experience calls for help from health-care professionals, I make use of a clinical example of a severe and common disease: stroke.

  • 12.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Communication, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    The ethics of self-change: becoming oneself by way of antidepressants or psychotherapy?2009In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 169-178Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores the differences between bringing about self-change by way of antidepressants versus psychotherapy from an ethical point of view, taking its starting point in the concept of authenticity. Given that the new antidepressants (SSRIs) are able not only to cure psychiatric disorders but also to bring about changes in the basic temperament structure of the person—changes in self-feeling—does it matter if one brings about such changes of the self by way of antidepressants or by way of psychotherapy? Are antidepressants a less good alternative than psychotherapy because antidepressants are in some way less authentic than psychotherapy? And, if so, what does this mean exactly? In this paper I try to show that the self-change brought about by way of antidepressants challenges basic assumptions of authentic self-change that are deeply ingrained in our Western culture: that changes in self should be brought about by laborious ‘self-work’ in which one explores the deep layers of the self (the unconscious) and comes to realise who one really is and should become. To become oneself has been held to presuppose such a journey. While the assumed importance of self-work appears to be badly founded on closer inspection, the notions of exploring and knowing oneself appear to be more promising in fleshing out an ethical distinction between psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic practice with the help of the concept of authenticity. Psychotherapy, to a much greater extent than psychopharmacological interventions, involves the whole profile of the self in its attempts to effect a change, not only in the temperament but also in the character of the person in question, and this is important from an ethical point of view. In the article, the concepts of self-change, authenticity, temperament and character are presented and used in order to understand and flesh out the relevant ethical differences between the practice of psychotherapy and the use of antidepressants. Looping, collective effects of psychopharmacological self-change in a cultural context are also considered in this context.

  • 13.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    The phenomenology of empathy in medicine: an introduction2014In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 17, no 2, p. 245-248Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article is an introduction to a thematic section on the phenomenology of empathy in medicine, attempting to provide an expose of the field. It also provides introductions to the individual articles of the thematic section.

  • 14.
    Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.
    The relationship between empathy and sympathy in good health care2015In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 18, no 2, p. 267-277Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Whereas empathy is most often looked upon as a virtue and essential skill in contemporary health care, the relationship to sympathy is more complicated. Empathic approaches that lead to emotional arousal on the part of the health care professional and strong feelings for the individual patient run the risk of becoming unprofessional in nature and having the effect of so-called compassion fatigue or burnout. In this paper I want to show that approaches to empathy in health care that attempt to solve these problems by cutting empathy loose from sympathy-from empathic concern-are mistaken. Instead, I argue, a certain kind of sympathy, which I call professional concern, is a necessary ingredient in good health care. Feeling oneself into the experiences and situation of the patient cannot be pursued without caring for the patient in question if the empathy is going to be successful. Sympathy is not only a thing that empathy makes possible and more or less spontaneously provides a way for but is something that we find at work in connection to empathy itself. In the paper I try to show how empathy is a particular form of emotion in which I feel with, about, and for the other person in developing an interpretation of his predicament. The with and for aspects of the empathy process are typically infused by a sympathy for the person one is empathizing with. Sympathy can be modulated into other ways of feeling with and for the person in the empathy process, but these sympathy-replacement feelings nevertheless always display some form of motivating concern for the target. Such an understanding of empathy is of particular importance for health care and other professions dealing with suffering clients.

  • 15. Svenaeus, Fredrik
    Wittgensteinian perspectives on bioethics2001In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 4, no 1, p. 97-99Article in journal (Refereed)
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