The distinction between explanation and understanding was foundational to Jaspers’ ‘phenomenological’ approach to psychiatry. It makes sense that those now calling for a phenomenological approach to psychiatry would look to Jaspers for inspiration, and that in doing so, they would take up this distinction. However, I argue that it is and was a mistake to use the distinction in work on psychiatry: adhering to the distinction now would undermine, rather than support, the goals of those advocating a phenomenological approach to psychiatry; furthermore, if the distinction had been adhered to, then contemporary psychiatry and its patients would be worse off.
Keywords explanation  understanding  psychiatry  phenomenological psychiatry  verstehen  erklaren  Jaspers
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DOI 10.1086/715106
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