An embedded, embodied, enactive approach to psychiatry

Poster A37, Thursday, October 20, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Inez Myin-Germeys1; 1Center for Contextual Psychiatry, KU Leuven

Background: Subjective experiences are the core of psychiatry. In this paper, I will argue that in order to make real progress in our understanding of psychopathology and more importantly in the development of new treatments, we need to put these experiences back at the core of our research rather than moving away from them. Method: Within the field of Cognitive Science, an embedded, embodied, enactive approach to cognition and experience has been developed, which states that experiences can only be understood through studying how they arise out of interaction with the environment. I will apply this approach to the study of psychotic symptoms by using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). Results: First, I will discuss how interactional changes over time may be associated with moment-to-moment variation in psychopathology. Similarly, situational factors, such as social context and lack of sleep have been associated with increased levels of paranoia. Secondly, I will provide two examples of newly developed real-life interventions that specifically focus on altering person-environment interactions. Discussion: The embedded, embodied, enactive approach provides a conceptual framework for a better understanding of existing data as well as for formulating new and possibly more accurate hypotheses. The picture that is emerging is that of psychopathology as a specific pattern of thoroughly context-sensitive interaction, related to but differing from non-pathological interaction. Following this approach may not only prove theoretically fruitful but might also have considerable applicable clinical benefits.

Topic Area: Diagnosis and Phenomenology

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