Hermeneutics and psychopathology: Jaspers and Hillman

Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 7 (2):70-80 (1987)
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Abstract

The correlation between psychopathology and hermeneutics has long been at the forefront of philosophic discussion. In recent years a number of thinkers, particularly in France, have advanced the claim that all hermeneutic acts are themselves part of an intrinsic pathology which makes it impossible to arrive at neutral and binding interpretations. The so-called hermeneutics of suspicion has served to undermine those interpretive norms which guided the depth psychology coming out of Freud and Jung. This hermeneutic and semiotic anarchy derives its impetus from a misreading of the nature and scope of a general psychopathology. Rather than locating psychopathology under the more generic analysis of the self and its relation to the various modes of the encompassing, whether these modes pertain to the self or its world, the hermeneutics of suspicion equates psychopathology with the self in all of its dimensions. Any contrast between the authentic or inauthentic, or the normal and the abnormal, is held to impose a form of privileging on the vast fabric of a self which has no center or circumference. The epoch making work of Freud and Jung is distorted and their basic commitment to hermeneutic norms is undermined. This not only represents a profound misreading of the history of depth psychology but stands as a threat to the drive for transcendence which lives at the heart of the human self. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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