Alienation and Psychopathologies: Towards an Alternative Grounding of Critical Theory

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Domonkos SIK, University Eötvös Loránd, Hungary
Critical theories have an ambiguous relation to psychopathologies. There seems to be a parallelism between notions normatively grounding critical theories like “alienation”, “anomie”, “loss of meaning”, “ontological insecurity” or “identity crisis” and notions describing symptoms of mental illnesses such as “generalized anxiety”, “depression” or “schizophrenia”. However this parallelism has never been analyzed systematically by critical theories, which – since Foucault – were preoccupied with criticizing the domination aspect of psychological and psychiatric knowledge. While such criticism certainly has its relevance, it results in a theoretical blind spot. Critical theories never attempted to profit from the rich empirical descriptions provided by these sciences, thus they missed the chance of being grounded on the empirical level of the various forms of suffering identified by them. In the presentation these questions are analyzed on the example of the notion of alienation. Firstly an attempt is made to answer the question: what kind of psychopathologies can be connected to the various notions of alienation elaborated by Marx, Habermas and Honneth? Secondly it is analyzed how these psychological and psychiatric descriptions can be used by critical theories. The models of distorted social integration elaborated by Marx, Habermas or Honneth based on theoretical concepts of suffering are complemented with models based on the empirical diagnoses of psychology and psychiatry. In this sense the descriptions of psychopathologies expressing alienation are used as a ground of identifying new aspects of social pathologies.