Amanda Taylor, BA. (University of Durham)

'Sass Heidegger and Alienation'

This paper offers an exploration of the Heideggerian influences present in the work of Louis Sass, a phenomenologist psychiatrist, and will critically engage with his treatment of alienation within the schizophrenic condition. I shall explore firstly the Heideggerian basis to Sass' thought, distinguishing two main ways in which we might see the concept of 'alienation' at work in Heidegger: firstly in his outlines of how it is we have previously viewed 'world' and secondly in his outline of the 'ground-mood' 'anxiety'. I shall show how these are essentially two very different types of alienation, arrived at in different ways, despite sharing a 'detached' and 'abstracted' stance. Next I shall move on to examine Sass' appropriation of these themes from Heidegger's work. It shall become apparent that although there is much to be gained from applying phenomenological methodology and considerations to illnesses such as schizophrenia (against more traditional ways of construing patients with schizophrenia in particular, neurobiologically), Sass' contention that the growing alienated stance pervading much modern culture and modes of thought has effected an increase in schizophrenia seems to be unsupportable. I shall enquire as to how these two factors can essentially influence each other causally, and show that whilst schizophrenia shares much in common with Heidegger's sketch of anxiety, it is remarkably different from the adoption of the 'scientific' conception of world.

Amanda Taylor is currently a Master's student at the University of Durham, England. She achieved her BA in 2006, her undergraduate dissertation offering an account of the role of fear in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Her current research interests are in Philosophy of Mind, focusing on the role of alienation and relatedness in interpersonal understanding.