Agoraphobia and Hypochondria as Disorders of Dwelling

International Studies in Philosophy 36 (2):31-44 (2004)
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Abstract

Using the works of Merleau-Ponty and of Heidegger, this paper argues that our spatial experience is rooted in the way we are engaged with and in our world. Space is not a predetermined and uniform geometrical grid, but the network of engagement and alienation that provides one's orientation in the inter-humanworld. Drawing on a phenomenological conception of space, this paper demonstrates that the neuroses of agoraphobia and, more unexpectedly, hypochondria must not be understood as mere "psychological" problems, but rather as problems of one's overall way of spatial being-in-the-world, that is, of "dwelling." With respect to both neuroses, the paper argues that subjects experience a sense of spatial contraction that mirrors a contraction in their abilities to engage with the people, the environment, and the situations that surround them.

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