Parallel Sessions

Key Note Speakers:

In this contribution(1) I plan to study the peculiar temporality of chronicity as a pathological time for the subject, and its psycho-bodily and intersubjective relational components in the light of three different diseases, either more somatic (diabetes), psychic (schizophrenia) or narrowly interweaving lived body and consciousness (anorexia) and also involving different intersubjective modalities (depressive solipsism, maniac openess, hostile otherness). Since chronicity in these so-called (and maybe mis-named) « chronic » diseases is quasi absent in the literature as a theme of study, we will rely on standard and best-known phenomenological views of time : the Husserlian dynamic of the living present and the passive genetic sedimentation, the Binswangerian melancholic past introversion and maniac absentminded all-openness, the traumatic repetitive compulsion (Freud, Larrabee, Depraz) as so many contrasted and comparative approaches of the chronic time. Parallely, I will compare such a phenomenological approach to first person microphenomenological interviews, so as to produce a refinement of the description of this peculiar bodily and relational disturbed time.

(1) This contribution relies on the ongoing Research Programm Adochroniq : « Les adolescents face à la maladie chronique » (2016-2019) financed by the Région Normandy (IRHIS)

What do bodies do when they do language? What is happening between them, within them, through them? Apart from general constraints on how we use language and how language changes, it seems that decades of research in embodied cognition have yet to provide an understanding of languaging as a bodily form of human sense-making. The reason, I propose, is that until now we have not acknowledged the massive categorical gap that separates talk about embodiment, sensorimotor loops, enactive perception, lived experience, etc., and the concepts we use to describe and try to understand language.

I will sketch parts of a forthcoming book (Linguistic Bodies, 2018, MIT Press, coauthored with Elena Cuffari and Hanne De Jaegher) where we offer a fully embodied and fully social treatment of human language. The project is to generate the missing categories, or at least to disentangle the sedimented layers of phenomena that are entailed every time we engage in the act of producing or understanding an utterance, in whatever form. We present an overarching theory that connects dynamical explanations of action and perception and accounts of precarious material individuation, through different kinds of participatory sense-making, to linguistic agency. Expanding and deepening enactive theory, we propose a constitutive account of language and the co-emergent phenomena of personhood, reflexivity, social normativity, and ideality. For this we adopt a dialectical method and draw on the resources of Gilbert Simondon’s ontology of individuation, Merleau-Ponty’s account of expression and sedimentation, and Evald Ilyenkov’s approach to the circularities between material practices and ideality.

Language, in the enactive view, is not another skill we add to a range of existing cognitive capacities but a new way of being embodied. 

Linguistic bodies are a new form of agency in ongoing becoming, one that bears a displaced mode of existence with respect to our sensorimotor and organic bodies, a product of sociomaterial history.

Each of us is a linguistic body in a community of other linguistic bodies. I will briefly describe some of the engagements that this new concept affords with questions regarding language development, autism, grammar, and enactive symbols.

After a review of the history of this disease and its interesting connections with some essential features of modernity and post modernity, the author tries to describe the relationship of the anorectic patient with her body. Then he compares – in an attempt of differential phenomenology – her way of living her body with the ways dysmorphophobic, depressive and schizophrenic patients do it. The result of this investigation can be summarized in the following points: 1. There is an extreme splitting between the subject-body (der Leib) and the object-body (der Körper). 2. The anorectic treats her body as an object, as a fetish which can be modeled at will and at the same time giving it any appearance. This goes long beyond the loss of weight, since what she tries to do is to control the structure of her body and to submit it to her will of manufacturing design and production. 3. The anorectic patient searches to exercise an absolute power over her body and its needs. Thus, she does not respect hunger, or rest, or the appeal of sex. This fascination for the dominion and control of everything (body, persons, world) comes to the extreme that she feels real pleasure in realizing transgressing behaviors, such as robbery. 4. Beyond abusing with her body, the anorectic patient feels repugnance for it, for its flesh, for its volume. Her aspiration goes much further than having the body of a model. What she wants is being permanently losing weight, not having volume, not occupying space. 5. She lives her body as something obscene, as a degrading show of her intimacy in the public space. Every protuberance, every roundness is lived as an exposition over the scene (ob-scene) of her own personal intimacy. 6. All these characteristics lead the anorectic patient to a deep feeling of abandonment and hopelessness, which nobody has described better than Ludwig Binswanger in relation to his famous case, Ellen West. So, her body and consequently, her world, have ceased being a dwelling.

Nach einem kurzen Hinweis auf die Geschichte dieser Erkrankung und auf die interessanten Verbindungen zu einigen wesentlichen Merkmalen der Moderne und der Postmoderne, beschreibt der Verfasser die Beziehung der anorektischen Patienten zu ihrem Leib. Danach entwickelt er eine Differentialphänomenologie zwischen der Leiblichkeit der Anorexia und der bei Dysmorphobie, Melancholie und Schizophrenie. Die Ergebnisse dieser Forschungen können wie folgt zusammengefasst werden: 1. In der Pubertätsmagersucht ergibt es sich eine extreme Spaltung zwischen Leib und Körper, im Unterschied zur Melancholie, bei der der Leib im Körper aufgeht. 2. Die anorektische Patientin behandelt ihren Körper als einen bloßen Gegenstand, als einen Fetisch, der eigenwillig modelliert werden kann. 3. Die anorektische Patientin versucht, absolute Macht über ihren Körper und dessen Bedürfnisse auszuüben. So respektiert sie weder Hunger, Ruhebedürfnis noch sexuelle Triebhaftigkeit. Ihre Faszination an der Kontrolle von Körper, Mitmenschen und ihrer Lebenswelt reicht bis zum Extrem, dass sie es buchstäblich „geniesst“, Normen zu übertreten, wie etwa zu lügen und zu stehlen. 4. Jenseits der Neigung, ihren Körper zu missbrauchen, empfindet sie ihm gegenüber ein echtes Ekelgefühl, einen Ekel gegen sein Fleisch, sein Volumen und seine Formen. Sie beabsichtigt, ihr Gewicht soweit zu verlieren, dass sie keinen Raum mehr einnimmt. 5. Sie erlebt ihren Körper als etwas Obszönes, als würde er ihre Intimität im öffentlichen Raum erniedrigend zur Schau stellen. Jede Rundung ihres Körpers wird zu einer Darstellung ihrer eigenen Innerlichkeit als öffentliche Szene (ob-szön). 6. Alle diese Umstände führen die anorektische Patientin in ein Gefühl des Verlassenseins, der Hoffnungslosigkeit und des existentiellen Selbstverlusts, Phänomene, die Binswanger für den Fall der Ellen West meisterhaft beschrieben hat. Letztlich ist ihr Körper, ihr Leib und ihre Welt kein Aufenthaltsort mehr, nichts, was für sie noch bewohnbar wäre.

According to the phenomenological tradition the minimal self is constituted in the recursive dynamics of the self-temporalizing of time consciousness. Contemporary phenomenological accounts of schizophrenia have employed this traditional analysis and characterized it as essentially a disorder of the minimal self. In this talk I will make use of the dynamical systems approach to cognitive science to highlight a distinction that has largely remained implicit in these accounts, namely between structural and affective self-constitution. I will argue that the disorder can be more fruitfully approached as a disorder of the latter rather than of the former. Many symptoms do not seem structurally pathological from the perspective of systems theory. Instead they seem to be caused by an unstable sense of self-familiarity: falling into hypo-familiarity produces an exaggeration of the felt distance between the ego and the stream of consciousness, leading to disowned experiences, while falling into hyper-familiarity eradicates this felt distance, leading to complete self-absorption during which the patient is reduced to automatisms without any accompanying reflection. Moreover, these pathological extremes of familiarity not only apply to the patient’s relationship with their self, but also to their relationship with the world and with other people. Based on these considerations I propose a new classification scheme that helps us to make sense of the most characteristic symptoms.

Studies of depression suggest that in the depressed subject, abnormal dynamical synchronies exist between the various factors of first-person perspective, bodily/emotional agency, and reflective (narrative related) agency, as evidenced in both phenomenology and dynamical connections across correlated brain areas. In line with the idea that psychiatric disorders are disorders of self and are typically multifactorial, and understanding depression in holistic terms as a change in one’s way of being in the world (Merleau-Ponty), I consider how predictive processing approaches may be integrated with enactive phenomenology to explain what Erwin Straus (1947) characterizes as an alteration in the basic structure of space and time? in depression. Common complaints include those of time slowing down or stopping, the past as distant, and the future as empty and hopeless. Fuchs (2013) describes this as a reification of time. Predictive processing accounts of depression focus on embodied (interoceptive) anomalies, but have so far failed to address disruptions in temporal experience. I consider a predictive processing account of Husserl’s phenomenology of intrinsic temporality as a way to address this issue.

The large group of patients suffering from pains, dizziness, fatigue and other forms of bodily distress usually is considered to be difficult to treat with either biomedical or psychosocial treatment methods. Whereas biopsychosocial risk factors for these mostly chronic conditions are relatively well known (e.g. childhood adversities, prior organic illness, current life stressors etc.), the mechanisms underlying the experience of bodily distress itself are largely unclear. Top down or psychogenic models which imply (unconscious) psychological causes for overactive autonomous nervous and other bodily systems have never been confirmed empirically, and bottom up models implying primarily physiological disturbances that are secondarily amplified or otherwise enhanced by psychosocial mechanisms also meet with limited empirical confirmation.

In the presentation we will discuss a model of bodily distress as perceptual dysregulation, based on a model of the brain as a predictive processing device in which internal models interact with peripheral input to create extero- and interoceptions. Interestingly, this model not only allows for an “ecumenical” integration of top down and bottom up aspects, it also supports a 4E-perspective (embodied, embedded, enactive, extended) on the development of bodily distress. An important aspect of this is the developmental notion of “embodied mentalization”, seen as a result of multiple body-related interactions between child and caregiver – these interactions shape the internal generative models and hence directly influence later perceptions, also of bodily distress. Treatment implications of this model will also be discussed.

In this contribution, I will consider what we call “body” and its role in clinical practices. I will work together with both Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Lacan. This will allow me to consider not only the body as a materiality structured by its finitude, not only the body as a locus of our lived experiences, not only the body as it anchors our actions, but also the body as it incarnates otherness. Otherness will here be considered as twofold: on the one hand, the body as a living organism is a generality and its functioning hosts a germ of depersonalisation; on the other hand, and at the same time, the body is that which keeps any other subject away from me, separated from me, irreducible to me. It thus appears that the body is both at once a concretion of alterity and of singularity. We will rely on such conceptualisation of the body to consider the possibility of designing a clinical practice informed both by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and by Jacques Lacan.

This paper addresses experiences of grief in order to examine various ways in which human experience, thought, and activity are shaped by relations with specific individuals and with other people in general. In particular, I focus on the nature of emotion regulation and develop an account of how regulatory processes are interpersonally distributed. In so doing, I discuss how enduring relations with the deceased often play regulatory roles. I conclude by proposing that a consideration of these same interpersonal regulatory processes (and their absence) should be equally central to our understanding of the nature and development of psychiatric illness.

Husserl scholars are well aware that Husserl engages different levels of experience in his phenomenological analyses. In Ideas I, for example, he remains fairly focused on the level of objective constitution, where objects are constituted as whole unities. In Ideas II and the Cartesian Meditations, on the other hand, he moves through several levels in order to arrive at a description of the intersubjective levels. My argument in this article is that there are several of these levels of experience, and that they are much more systematically in place for Husserl than might first appear. My primary goal, therefore, is to explicate each of these levels as well as to demonstrate how Husserl carries out analyses in each of them. Further, I wish to point out that these levels of experience are not to be linked necessarily to one type of phenomenological method or another (for example, static or genetic). Rather, the type of method in play depends on the questions that are driving the inquiry.

These levels of temporality begin at the “lowest” level of primary, sensory experience, where neither temporality, nor the body, nor intersubjectivity is constituted; rather, it is a continual flow of fundamental sensation. We then move “upward” into our passive constitution of this sensory flow, where sensory formations relate to one another through similarity and contrast. Here temporality is a flow of object-like formations, rather than pure sensory “data”. It also becomes recognizable as the form through which all experiences become available for us. Embodiment and intersubjectivity at this level are merely rudimentary formations that arise through similarity and contrast. Out of this passive level arises our more aware activity of constituting the objects and subjects with which we are dealing; in doing so, we also constitute time as having a “before” and an “after” with regard to our experiencing flow. In addition, my body distinguishes itself as having a certain sensory aspect to its materiality that is different from the materiality of other objects, and other subjects also begin to distinguish themselves from objects. Finally, we reach the level where we recognize the participation of other subjects in our experiences. Here we find the constitution of time as an objective, measurable entity in the world. Objects, too, gain a new level of materiality as objective entities in the world, experiencable by others. And subjects are now understood to be other egos—similar to me, but not the same as me. The intersubjective level, furthermore, appears to have at least two levels: the level of individual encounters with other subjects (a more “personal” level), and the level of community, history, and generations (a more abstract sense of cultural human being). Each of these constitutive levels is functioning all the time—it is only through phenomenology that we focus upon and analyze them separately.

This paper considers the ways of knowing regarding mental disorders that are characteristic of the traditional healers (curanderas and curanderos) of an indigenous group in Mexico together with some brief consideration of similarities and differences when compared with contemporary Western psychology and psychiatry. The study is based on numerous ethnographic interviews with traditional Purépecha healers in rural Michoacán, interviews focused on local conceptions of emotional and mental disorder, especially nervios, susto, and locura (nerves, fright, and madness). I will focus, in particular, on the local understandings pertaining to two issues central to the theme of the conference (the body and the other): namely, 1, the relation between body and soul in nervios, susto, and locura; and 2, the role of social relationships, rivalries, and magical interventions in the development of such conditions.

Persons affected by or vulnerable to eating disorders often report their difficulties in perceiving their emotions and that they do not “feel” themselves. They have difficulties in feeling their own body in the first-person perspective, to have a stable and continuous sense of themselves as embodied agents and to establish a stable and reliable representation of themselves – a fleeting feel of selfhood and an evanescent sense of identity. Indeed, feeling oneself is a basic requirement for achieving an identity and a stable sense of one’s Self. The experience of not feeling one’s own body and emotions affects the whole sense of identity. Indeed, we construe our personal identity on the basis of our feelings, that is, of what we like or dislike. For person affected by eating disorders, since they can hardly feel themselves and their feelings are discontinuous over time, identity is no longer a real psychic structure that persists beyond the flow of time and circumstances. They also feel extraneous from her own body and attempt to regain a sense of bodily Self through starvation. The most typical phenomenon seems to be that these people experience own body first and foremost as an object being looked at by another, rather than coenesthetically or from a first-person perspective. Since they cannot have an experience of their body from within, they need to apprehend their body from without through the gaze of the Other. What they seem lack is the coenesthetic apprehension of their own body as the more primitive and basic form of self-awareness. As a consequence the way one feels looked at by other persons is the only possibility to feel oneself and define one’s identity.

In my talk, I will discuss the disagreement between Gerda Walther and Aron Gurwitsch concerning the nature of community (what is most important: concrete bodily engagement or cultural heritage) and relate their phenomenological perspective to a recent account of nationalism offered by Bernard Yack.

Parallel Speakers:

Being in the bodily presence of others facilitates important perceptual and social advantages. For example, it enables direct accesses to other subjects’ embodied perspectives, it motivities intersubjective engagements, and it is involved in the construction of shared experiences and joint actions. These advantages are gained through attending to and with others, that is they rely on social attention. It is therefore not surprising that a growing body of evidence indicates that social attention is a distinct state of attention that is based on specific behavioral and neural-cognitive properties. Another important feature of human social attention, which is highlighted in this paper is its involvement in extending and enriching the subject’s attentional field. Based on phenomenological and cognitive considerations I suggests that social attention considerably extends the subject’s attention, in that that under normal top-down conditions the subject attends to more features and more situations when attending to and with others. The broadening of human subjects attentional field beyond its temporal center through attention to the postures, facial expressions, and kinesthesis of other people influences our wellbeing as it generates crucial experiential benefits and involves in the manifestation of the sense of everydayness, which stem from our daily environments.

Our talk aims to emphasize the link among embodiment, intersubjectivity and temporal experiences in melancholic depression, a strong condition of depression that often leads to suicidal thoughts. In this condition, the subject feels a kinesthetic shrinking, namely, he cannot perceive his potential to act in the world (his affordances). This affects intersubjectivity as well: the subject loses his sensus communis and feels himself cut off from the world because he has lost not only his embodied sense of self, but also his power of “atmospheric irradiation”, borrowing Tellenbach’s expression (1981). As a result, even the other structures of subjectivity become impaired. Space and time collapse in constraining dimensional loci: the surrounding space is scattered by unreachable human beings, with no possibility of interaffective communication. Time loses its future directedness, petrified in a ‘heavy presense’.

Taking into account first person reports from subjects affected by depression (drawing on the work of S. Brambton, 2008, and W. Styron, 1990) we will argue for the presence of a disruption at the level of the operative embodied intentionality and affective, atmospheric resonance, elements that constitute the ground for a chiasmatic relationship between the subject and the world.

Using the „experimental system“ (Rheinberger) of the two handed trim saw the concepts of interactive emergence and „extended body“ (Froese/Fuchs) will be elaborated. Intersubjectivity in social processes, child development or therapeutic relationships, originates via mutual processes of enacting, embodying and embedding. They use (a.) and create (b.) common emotional, cognitive and bodily milieus. Also healing processes in medicine/psychosomatics e.g. use (a.) and create (b.) emergent cognitive, emotional and bodily common fields which inaugurate salutogenetic abilities and help to diminish pathogenetic influences.

Husserl holds that that the concept of the self as both a subject for the world and as an object in the world entails a paradox, the “paradox of subjectivity.” My talk shows that the paradox of subjectivity cannot easily be resolved and that it reappears in different interpretations of the relation between the two aspects of the self. The paradox is not the result of a straightforward misconception, such as conceiving the self as a subject for the world as a being different from the self as an embodied person in the world. Rather than constituting a quandary that must be overcome, the paradox reveals a fundamental feature of consciousness. Ordinary consciousness can contain both the awareness of “oneself-as-object” and that of “oneself-as-subject” (Fuchs 2016, 298–299). Whereas the former comes to the fore under the natural attitude, however, the latter is distorted by that very attitude and is fully brought to the fore only by the phenomenological attitude.

In my contribution, which has a genuinely heuristic character, I would like to explore the potential of the so-called ‘occasional expressions’ for neurodegenerative diseases. For this I intend to proceed in 4 steps:

First, together with Edmund Husserl and Karl Bühler, I explain what occasional expressions – such as ‘I’, ‘here’ or ‘now’ – actually are and how they work. Secondly, I would like to use the concept of the ‘occasional horizon’ to work out how far this linguistic-philosophical phenomenon is of general significance for the experience of the life-world. Precisely because of the occasional horizon, the temporal, spatial and personal dimensions of situations and contexts can be captured in a differentiated way. Thirdly and fourthly, these considerations are then transferred to neurodegenerative diseases: On the one hand, it should be argued from an analytical point of view that pathological disorders of orientation can be better understood in their temporal, spatial and personal dimensions with the help of the occasional horizon; on the other hand, it should be examined from a therapeutic point of view whether the deictic character of occasional expressions could be used to improve communication with patients.

In April 1914, Katharina Detzel (1872–ca. 1941) created a life-size male puppet out of seaweed and sailcloth – materials she produced by tearing up the mattress of her isolation cell in the psychiatric institution of Klingenmünster, Germany. A photograph shows Katharina proudly presenting the figure. It is preserved in the Prinzhorn Collection, Heidelberg, containing a heterogenous variety of creative expressions originating mainly in psychiatric institutions around 1900. Whereas Detzels’ doctors at that time view the puppet as a confirmation of her disease and disobedience to the rules, phenomenological approaches today can foster an understanding as an existential expression of her situation, needs and wishes. How can an approach following our resonance as recipients and focussing on the intertwining of creation and reception processes be described more precisely? How can the categories of time, body and the other contribute to this? And what does this reveal about the puppet of Katharina Detzel?

On behalf of the medial enactment of constructive and destructive creativity embodied in the pop-icons Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger, it will be shown how pop-stars cope with constructive and destructive forces in the eye of the other. The medially enacted body plays a major role in success and failure of creative transformation of destructivity. The constructive and destructive embodiment in the eye of the medial other can also be demonstrated by a comparison of Amy Winehouse and Madonna Ciccione.

Arts Therapies work with the body and its dimensions space, time, gravity and attachment; the body and attachment being some of the most important healing factors of the arts therapies. This lecture will look at the way the body gives birth to and symbolizes space and time. Spatial directions are built upon the body as their center point and have symbolic meaning for men. Rhythm partitions time and serves for self-expression, expression of vitality, and communication. Gravity serves to organize and express feelings and ideas about the self (e.g., strength, control; the bond to myself), and attachment organizes feelings for and the bond to others (love; transcending space, time and gravity).

I will speak on six envisioned dimensions that built upon one another. The first three are spatial: horizontal, vertical and sagittal plane, spoken from our embodiment/the perspective of our body; the fourth is temporal (time), Thomas Fuchs has written quite a bit on that one. The fifth is gravity: it is about moving bodies; for the human realm: weight, self/ego; strength, self-propelled movement; and the sixth is attachment, it transverses space, time and gravity, it is about love and you/thou; it transverses the ego, it has a truth of itself, it has a physical, chemical and biological necessity – our genuine human dimension.

According to an important paradigm in contemporary grief research, a healthy grieving process should not aim at severing ties to the deceased—as Freud has traditionally been taken to hold— but rather aim at cultivating a continued bond with the deceased. In this paper, I outline a particular issue in the ability to do just that, which results from an inadequate sedimentation of the deceased in the body memory of the bereaved. The issue can be stated as follows: If the bereaved person has not adequately incorporated the deceased Other on an embodied level, i.e. in body memory, the very foundation for maintaining a continued bond with the deceased is rendered problematic. Specifically, if the bereaved person does not have a sedimented feeling of the deceased’s sensory qualities, his kinaesthetic rhythms and atmospheric presence etc. then the bereaved person remains alienated and distanced towards the typical visual and narrative representations we use as cultural types for continuing bonds. The consequence of such a lack of sedimentation in body memory is not an absence of grief or longing for the deceased, but rather what I term a longing for concreteness. To illustrate this, I draw on a single-case study of a woman who was bereaved of her father at the age of 9. Based on this, I briefly discuss what this issue might tell us about the types of body memory. Specifically, I suggest that we need to nuance and expand the otherwise rich taxonomy provided by Edward Casey and Thomas Fuchs to accommodate the specific dimension of how we incorporate the concrete, significant Other in body memory.

Most of contemporary scientific and philosophical approaches to living beings are based on different kind of mechanistic views that derive from artificial models. From this perspective, a living being is a special kind of machine. There are, however, other approaches that see them as special systems that assert themselves through the exchange with the medium. But frequently these approaches insist especially in the capacity of the living being for self-maintaining and preserving its own order. My aim is to explore the role of growth not only in the process of building a living system, but also as a key to understand what life is in it-self. From this perspective, especially for multicellular living beings, the process of multiplication, differentiation and coordination of organic parts is not only a phase of the existence of each of them, but a feature that is present through the whole life cycle. Besides, in the case of those organisms with a developed nervous system, learning can be seen as a prolongation of growth that takes over mere organic development. This opens the possibility of understanding the acquisition of habits and dispositions as a new way of growth.

The concept of dual aspectivity is central in Thomas Fuchs’ eco-phenomenology of the human body. It means that the body is one and the same being, but that according to the perspective we take on it, it appears under fundamentally different aspects. On the one side, it is a lived body, a subjectivity; on the other side, it is a living body, a complex assemblage of physiological processes and matters. The unity of both aspects is a “mediated monism”, or a “dialectical unity of unity and diversity” (2018, 80), and not a dualism in the sense of two distinct ontological substances. Fuchs then relies on the Aristotelian notion of physis to explain what this duality consists in. In the psychosomatic tradition, this question of mind-body dualism was very much in the center, particularly in Pierre Marty’s writings. Marty (1918-1993) was one of the founders of French psychosomatics, and the concepts he forged (operative life, mentalization, essential depression) still play a central role in contemporary psychotherapeutical practices. Marty’s approach, as he writes, “overtly abandons the principle of psyche-soma dualism” (1976, 16), and considers the unconscious as the space where the mental and the somatic are one and the same thing, or where they overlap. What would it mean from the phenomenological viewpoint to describe the unconscious as the physis of the humans? My contribution in this conference will be focused on Marty’s answer to this question.


Thomas Fuchs, Ecology of the Brain. The Phenomenology and Biology of the Embodied Mind (OUP, 2018).

Pierre Marty, Les mouvements individuels de vie et de morts (Payot, 1976).

Pierre Marty, L’ordre psychosomatique (Payot, 1980).

Timo Storck, Psychoanalyse und Psychosomatik. Die leiblichen Grundlagen der Psychodynamik (Kohlhammer, 2016).


In this contribution, I will discuss the topic of intersubjectivity in psychopathology and, more specifically, its role in the diagnostic process.

The issue of knowing the other, which has been extensively studied in phenomenology, is conceptually intertwined with the gnoseological problem inherent in the diagnostic process in psychiatry. This process has been mostly conceived from a third person perspective, under the assumption that the observer-observed (subject-object) paradigm is the only truly scientific one.


Recently, this rigid perspective has been questioned and challenged in several ways, and some fundamental issues raised by the phenomenological view of human interactions have permeated the debate about diagnosis. The increased attention on the first person (subject-subject) dimension of the clinical encounter and on its peculiar epistemology has led to seminal efforts to identify a number of relevant clinical phenomena that are susceptible of being measured and can be integrated with strictly objective observation (i.e. EASE, EAWE).

Psychiatric patients share a specific impairment in the structure of intersubjectivity, and they also present with disturbances of other a priori structures in ways that are specific to particular diagnostic entities. The intersubjective dimension of consciousness might thus represent a key domain, whose exploration in clinical settings may prove to be valuable for diagnostic purposes.

Given that a phenomenological analysis of intersubjectivity is based on a study of intersubjectivity-as-experienced-by-a-subject, it can be hypothesized that investigating the clinician’s experience during his or her interaction with a patient may reveal some aspects of the patient’s intersubjective dimension itself.

In recent years, a reliable psychometric instrument named ACSE (Assessment of the Clinician’s Subjective Experience), which is specifically aimed at exploring the intersubjective field in psychopathology, has been developed and validated. Here, I will provide an overview of the findings from this line of research.

The lecture will start with a general overview of the current state of research in the field of the importance of postpartum depression and anxiety disorders for the relationship between mother and child. Ensuing there will be an introduction in central concepts and experimental methods for evaluating the parent-child-relationship (Face-To-Face-Still-Face Paradigm, Bonding). On the basis of video analyses and the presentation of body psychotherapeutic techniques concerning the mother-infant-relationship (according to George Downing, Ph.D.) there will be an insight provided into the possibilities of the positive influence on the interactional embodiment of early mother-child-relationship.

In my talk, I will shed light on the close relationship between feeling and sense of self by examining how processes of affective dysregulation may give rise to severe identity disturbances in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In doing so, I propose an experiential account of the relationship between varying typical symptoms of BPD. I argue that the specific pattern and correlation of symptoms typical for Borderline syndrome is, albeit not reducible to, highly determined by the phenomenological intertwinement between these symptoms. To give an example of such experiential connections, I discuss the phenomenological relationship between bodily impulsivity and affective dysregulation, and provide an outline of how disturbances in their interplay may trigger a pattern of affective instability, lack of self-feeling and self-understanding, high sensitivity, general identity disturbances, and interpersonal problems. Thereby, my aim is to illustrate the important role of the body in the genesis of BPD.

According to the classical psychiatric perspective, the psychiatrist’s subjective experience of the clinical encounter should not be taken into the account during the diagnosis as it does not provide any reliable scientific data. Since the dawn of psychiatry, somatic medicine and its idea of objectivity as what can be achieved by adopting a point of view from nowhere, has been, indeed, considered as the model to follow. In this perspective, the psychiatrist’s impressions and emotions must be set aside as they may interfere with the results of the psychiatric examination.

The goal of this paper is to show that the psychiatric diagnosis should be, instead, addressed as relying on a form of situated knowledge, i.e. knowledge that depends on a concrete situation and is informed by a subjective experience of the clinician. In particular, I will show how phenomenology allows developing an account of the psychiatrist’s experience that highlights the embodied and relational dimensions of this experience. I will discuss what concrete conceptual tools are offered by such a phenomenological account and how they allow the psychiatrist to acknowledge and to reflect upon his or her bodily feelings and emotional response to the clinical situation.

This talk, based on my Ph.D. project, will focus on how anomalous subjective experiences, classic psychopathological symptoms and enactive cognitive processes usually found in disorders within the schizophrenia spectrum change (or not), during the research period (3 years).

Anomalous subjective experiences have been neglected by researchers working with severe schizophrenia, thus giving way to reductive approaches in the treatments and diagnostic processes of mental illnesses. However, these cannot grasp the entirety of the ill subject’s experience of being in the world, thus getting in the way of a better diagnostic and clinical understanding of the condition. This work emphasizes a conceptual and holistic understanding of schizophrenic disorders, which takes into consideration the complexity in which a variety of anomalous experiences related to the self and the world, appear fragmented and abnormal.

The patients being interviewed for this project are being assessed over a ‘temporal staging’ framework: that is, each case shall be contextually investigated so that a more in-depth characterization of the eventual clinical changes can transform into a more holistic understanding of psychosis. So, given this ‘contextual’ approach to the heterogeneity of schizophrenia and related disorders, I would like to highlight to what extent the changes (or lack thereof) of the subjective experiences, psychopathological symptoms and enactive auto-regulatory processes might help further clarifying the psychopathological and clinical implications of severe schizophrenia.

In this talk, I will emphasize on how the self, of two patients I have interviewed, present alterations in their contact with the world, in regard to enactive affectivity, bodily experiences, and sense-making (meaningful attunement). The self, also in schizophrenia, does not only show alterations in the person’s subjectivity but also in the affective and bodily dis(regulations) and intersubjective attunement (or lack thereof) with the world. Each of these singular phenomena occurs remarkably differently in each case, given the patient’s history of illness, the severity of symptoms and/or alterations in experiential and intersubjective life. So, as one preliminary result, I will show how the self of these two interviewees has changed in their own contact with the world, exemplifying these alterations by relying on their own narratives. The theoretical frameworks I employ are based on research in phenomenological psychopathology and enactive cognitive science, while for the qualitative part (interviews) of the project the EASE scale (Examination of Anomalous Self Experiences) is being utilized.

Taijin Kyofusho (TKS) is a form of social anxiety disorder that is considered to be a culture-bound syndrome, which is mainly found in Japan. The term itself has its origin in Japanese psychiatry, and literally means phobia (Kyofusho) of the interpersonal (Taijin). As expressed by the term, a patient with TKS experiences extreme tension and fear during interpersonal interactions with others. Symptoms are experienced mentally as well as somatically and include the fear of blushing, making eye contact with others, emitting unpleasant odors, and acting awkwardly, among others. According to the current diagnostic criteria of DSM-5, the important character that distinguishes TKS from the social anxiety disorder is the excessive concern about others (APA, 2013). Patients with the social anxiety disorder are behaviorally embarrassed in front of others, and experience fear as a direct reaction to the presence of others, whereas patients with TKS are also afraid that they might offend others or make others feel uncomfortable. The characteristic of offending others has been focused on for defining TKS as a culture-bound syndrome. In fact, however, only a subtype of TKS involves the characteristic of offending others (Kasahara, 2005).

Focusing on bodily aspects of both TKS and social anxiety disorder symptoms suggest that the excessive fear is triggered by social situations where the patient’s body and performances might be perceived and judged negatively by others. The source of anxiety and fear is the patient’s own figure reflected in the other’s mind and the other’s negative evaluation of it. In this regard, it is possible that patients are afraid of the other’s mind that is originally unknowable, in the general sense that a person is unable to perceive exactly in the same manner that the other person perceives (Sartre, 1943/1956). From the perspective of the embodied self, what characterizes both TKS and social anxiety disorder is the inadequately attuned embodied interaction of perceiving and being perceived between the self and the other. TKS is essentially a continuation of social anxiety disorder as an embodied experience, and thus, it is not necessarily correct to define TKS as a culture-bound syndrome. Instead, I would like to point out that social anxiety disorder including TKS would be observed in any society where the ambiguous character of interpersonal situations would be salient.

Despite recent attempts to grasp the scaffolded or extended nature of some affective phenomena, affective atmospheres, which assumedly are supposed to epitomize the notion of “extended affectivity”, are mentioned only in passing. Yet, affective atmospheres are a lively topic in a host of diverse fields of research, spanning, among others, psychopathology, phenomenology, or human geography. Although most of these approaches conceive of affective atmospheres as, obviously, a kind of affectivity and, moreover, not only full-blown emotions are expected to exhibit intentionality, rarely has this lead to take into account the particular intentional structure of atmospheres.

In this talk, I will 1) highlight how affective atmospheres as a fundamental affective relation between agents and a sociomaterial environment display an intentional structure which 2) entails their irreducibility to related kinds of affective coupling. Special emphasis will be put on the often neglected temporal dynamics of this allegedly rather spatial or “synchronous” phenomenon.

3) Finally, the consequences of this kind of intentionality for a possible “rationality of atmospheres” will be outlined.

One of the most challenging and vital issues for a healthcare professional arises when faced with a patient’s anxiety about death. During a session, the therapist will try to accept and understand all of the subtleties conveyed by the patient. The cyclic act of „Listen as you speak“ is an essential and vital part of the interview. German neurologist Viktor von Weizsäcker named the wholeness of the sensation and act of living „Gestaltkreis“ (circle of form, or formative cycle.) Gestaltkreis has the exact same structure as a psychotherapy session or playing music; action and perception are simultaneously established. If the clinician succeeds in utilizing „Listen as you speak“, sharpening his senses to perceive and accept what unfolds between the patient and himself, then the therapist’s preconceptions may diminish, allowing mutual understanding and empathy to develop. An encounter with a patient fearing death is described as an example of this utilization. This case illustrates the phenomenology of intersubjectivity as described by Merleau-Ponty. Being open to intersubjective receptiveness will help to eliminate one’s preconceptions. This intersubjective receptiveness appears to be an essential stance for a psychotherapist or healthcare professional who strives to understand a suffering patient and provide support to her/him.

Theoretical research on interbodily resonance has proposed that mutual and dynamical influence between agents occur not only at the affective or proprioceptive levels, but also at the intra-bodily level (Froese & Fuchs, 2012; Fuchs, 2017). This mutual influence, a) can be described as the experience of a specific feeling of being connected with the other: a dynamical “togetherness”. And, (b) it can be quantified as synchrony between agents´ biosignals, which can be measured in a continuous fashion during interactive tasks. We present our ongoing research on the conceptualization of togetherness as an embodied experience operationally defined as the synchrony between physiological time series of engaged agents during two different coordination tasks: real-time dyadic embodied interaction and collective musical improvisation.

This research takes into account different temporal resolutions at which interbodily resonance is being modulated by the agents’ actions and perception. Togetherness is more than just states of mind about a shared situation; it is an active and kinesthetic joining of actions, and therefore must be studied from dynamical and systemic perspectives. We focus on physiological measurements concerning the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS), considered to be an adaptive system involved in both living processes and lived experiences.


Froese, T., & Fuchs, T. (2012). The extended body: a case study in the neurophenomenology of social interaction. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 11(2), 205–235. doi:10.1007/s11097-012-9254-2

Fuchs, T. (2017). Intercorporeality and Interaffectivity (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190210465.003.0001

In my talk, I will focus on the notion of presentification (Vergegenwärtigung) from a phenomenological point of view. In all different cases of presentification (such as recollection or imagination), there is a detachment from our actual perceptual horizon. We project ourselves in another “experiential situation” that is different from our given perceptual surroundings. This situation can appear as past (in the recollection), as pure possibility in terms of as-if (in the imagination), or as future in case of anticipation. The basic structure of ego-split with two radical different scenes is common to all these different experiences that Husserl recognizes as presentifications. In my paper, I intend to analyze the peculiar form of ego-split in two different phenomena: involuntary memory and déjà vu.

Topics Related to Thomas Fuchs’ Works

In this talk, I investigate the functions of imagination for empathy. 

I differentiate a few modes of imaginatory consciousness – perception-based weak phantasy, reproductive phantasy, and productive imagination – and analyse their potentials for experiencing and understanding other minds. The results will then be related to some suggestions made by Thomas Fuchs concerning the phenomenal characteristics of as-if-consciousness, virtual and fictional empathy.

It is already difficult to ‘be yourself’ anyway, but things get even more complicated if you suffer from a psychiatric disorder. For how do you know when you are being yourself, or when your thoughts or feelings are rather coloured by your disorder? And how to relate to the disorder itself: as something that is alien to you or as something that in some sense belongs to you, is part of who you are? At times when you cannot automatically trust your own perspective, loved ones can sometimes help out to refine your understanding of yourself. Could such ‘social scaffolding’ also work when it comes to the questions surrounding authenticity in psychiatry? In this talk, I explore the possibilities and pitfalls of a relational take on authenticity in the context of psychiatry.

In this presentation, I explore the phenomenology of temporal experience in schizophrenia. I do so based on the work of early phenomenological psychiatrists such as Minkowski, Kimura and Blankenburg on the one hand, and on more recent approaches, particularly the works of Fuchs, on the other. I first distinguish between implicit and explicit time. Implicit time is based on the constitutive synthesis of inner time consciousness on the one hand, and on the conative-affective dynamics of life on the other. Explicit or conscious time experience arises with an interruption or negation of implicit time, and it unfolds itself in the dimensions of present, past, and future. Implicit time is based on a fluid and tacit bodily functioning and on affective synchronization with others, while explicit time arises through states of desynchronization, forexample through retardation or acceleration of subjective time in relation to the social sphere. I clarify how a disturbance in temporality can lead to major symptoms of schizophrenia, such as thought disorders, hallucinations, or passivity experiences, and then consider the role of explicit temporal disturbances in schizophrenia.

The distinction between implicit and explicit forms of memory is a crucial topic in both philosophical and psychological research on memory. Phenomenology importantly contributed to the inquiry into these forms of memory by (i) assuming intentionality as the basis for the distinction between implicit and explicit memory; (ii) connecting implicit memory with bodily experience, in such a way as to consider body memory as the concrete determination of implicit memory; (iii) systematically differentiating the expressions of body memory. The aim of this paper is to reassess these achievements of the phenomenology of body memory, particularly referring to Thomas Fuchs? work, and to discuss their implications for the inquiry into self-experience, intersubjective and social experience, and their disturbances.