Şerife Tekin: The Indispensability of Patient Testimonies for Objectivity in Psychiatry
16 May 2019, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT
A primary goal of psychiatric epistemology is to identify the properties of mental disorders that are relevant for developing effective interventions. Sources of information that individuate these properties include scientific research on mental disorders (e.g., clinical drug trials), data emerging from clinical settings (e.g., case studies), and first-person reports of those suffering from mental disorders or those who witness or observe such suffering. While dominant scientific frameworks in psychiatry recognize and rely on scientific and clinical data in their efforts to advance the science of mental disorders, they are not similarly committed to directly using the first-person perspectives of patients. More specifically, individuals who suffer from and are diagnosed with mental disorders have not systematically been made part of the scientific inquiry into mental disorders. One of the reasons for this is the worry that the inclusion of patients’ perspectives will compromise pscyhiatry’s aspirations to be an objective science. This talk responds to this challenge by drawing on feminist philosophy of science and makes a case for why the inclusion of patients’ perspectives is necessary for objectivity in psychiatry.
Şerife Tekin was born in Turkey and she spent her childhood and adolescence on the Aegean coast hanging around the ruins of Ancient Greek Civilization. She likes to think that she is a philosopher because she stepped foot on the soils that the Greek gods, goddesses, and philosophers left their marks, inhaled the salty humid sea air they breathed in, and inhabited a sense of wonder that woke them up from the deepest sleeps everyday. She received her PhD in 2010 at York University in Toronto, with the dissertation, “Mad Narratives: Exploring Self-Constitutions Through the Diagnostic Looking Glass,” following which she was a postdoctoral research fellow in Feminist Bioethics and Neuroethics at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Canada. After Dalhouise, she completed another postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to coming to UTSA, she was an assistant professor and the Director of Medical Humanities Minor at Daemen College, in Amherst, NY. Her research in Philosophy of Psychiatry is at the cusp of feminist approaches to Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, and Ethics. In her work, she aims to expand psychiatric knowledge by supplementing existing scientific literature with a philosophical study of the first-person accounts of those with mental illness — a rich but rarely used resource. She uses philosophical tools to engage with the scientific and clinical literature on mental illness, philosophical literature on the self, and the ethical literature on what contributes to human flourishing and expand psychiatric knowledge that will ultimately lead to effective treatments of mental illness. It matters to her that her knowledge and skills have impact on real lives, whether in the classroom when she is teaching, or outside the classroom when she is mentoring. When she is not teaching or writing, she likes to run, ride her bike, cook, and see art.
Learn more about Şerife Tekin.
Image credit: Stare into eternity – Explore by Stefan Tärnell (Creative Commons license)