Sunday, 4 January 2009


Well that’s that. Keeping up with family tradition we held an Epiphany party (a couple of days early) to mark the end of the holiday period and pretty much everyone who came goes back to work tomorrow. (In my case, my first day is a one day workshop on philosophy of psychiatry in Lancaster organised by Rachel Cooper.) With no particular determinate answer to the question of how best to think about the season, I’m struck by how clear the end of the period seems, nonetheless. The first day back to work at this time is notoriously one of the most depressing days of the year.

Since my last round up in September, my article ‘Does understanding individuals require idiographic judgement?’ has come out with the European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. This was a fairly short paper which considered what kind of ‘individualising’ judgement might be thought implicated by idiographic understanding (in what way might the judgement be thought to be independent of others?). But as a result of its publication, the editor of Psychopathology is uneasy about publishing the other longer draft paper previously requested which started where this one left off and then considered the narrative understanding alternative but did repeat the key objection to Windelband (the climax, as it were, of one paper and the starting assumption of the other). I will have to think how, and whether, to deal with this (and how to deal with a tricky referee’s report (one of three; two are fine) which seems quite off kilter to me).

Two PPP papers will come out in a few months in an edition on EBM and VBM. Again I have a bit of an overlap problem because I’ve used some material in one of these that I also put in an AAPP commentary on Peter Zachar (pictured) and Kenneth Kendler’s suggested conceptual framework to assess psychiatric taxonomy and I’d assumed that the AAPP commentary would have come out a good six months before its reworking and extension in PPP but it is delayed until at least later in January. Since Zachar and Kendler have replied, I wouldn't want, perhaps more honourably, to pull the AAPP version.

The chapter I wrote with Bill Fulford for a WPA edited book on psychiatric diagnosis (Salloum, I.M and Mezzich, J.E. (eds) (forthcoming) Psychiatric Diagnosis: Patterns and Prospects, Hoboken: Wiley) had, at the last minute, a section on Greek philosophy injected by George Christoudolou. My original drafting cannot have been a very seamless creation because his late insertion didn’t seem to me to upset the flow of the chapter very much if at all.

Bill and I have also just put together a chapter called ‘Meanings and Values as a Complement to Neuroscience: A Case Study in the History and Philosophy of Science’ for Puri, B. and Treasaden, I. (eds) Psychiatry – an evidence-based text for the MRCPsych, London: Hodder Arnold, Health Sciences. For this I combined material on Jaspers and on Windelband to suggest that there were two useful but independent additions to scientistic science (Jaspers doesn't seem to do values). Since the psychiatry students who will read this chapter will not have read any of the journal papers (or my book), it seemed rational to base it on previously written material, reworked for this chapter. But it was rather dull to write, as a result.

The moral of all this is that I’ll retire all previously worked on philosophy of psychiatry material as of now. Three years of developing a number of connected themes for as many publications as I could manage (to justify my post) in applied philosophy journals, non-philosophy journals, a book and book chapters was bound to produce overlap in written articles but I think I’ve done too much of that now. A new year is a good time to think about some new things and start again from scratch.