Philosophical Resources for the Psychiatric Interview – Giovanni Stanghellini

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Found in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry, Oxford University Press, 2013.

p. 321 by Giovanni Stanghellini

“In this chapter, I will first review the basic tenets of mainstream psychiatric interviewing techniques – the so-called      technical approach – highlighting their main drawbacks and limitations.  Since the psychiatric interview is, first and foremost, a search for symptoms, I will then spend considerable time analyzing the different ways of conceptualizing symptoms in the biomedical, psychodynamic, and phenomenological-hermeneutical paradigms.  The following step will be describing the family of dispositives in use during the interview, that is the first-(subjective), second-(dialogical) and third-person (objective) mode of interviewing.  A short history of the discipline of psychopathology, the basic science for psychiatric assessment, will introduce three levels of the psychopathological inquiry:  descriptive psychopathology, whose main purpose is to systematically study conscious experiences, order and classify them, and create valid and reliable terminology; clinical psychopathology, which is a pragmatic tool for bridging relevant symptoms to diagnostic categories; and structural psychopathology, which assumes that the manifold of phenomena of a given mental disorder are a meaningful whole and searches for meaningful units.”

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