Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mary Beth Mader
According to Edmund Husserl, time is one of the most difficult phenomenological problems, and difficulties arise as soon as we attempt to reach an understanding of how temporal objectivity can become constituted in the subjective consciousness of time. I am focusing on one aspect of time-consciousness - the role it plays in studies of mental illness - in order to expose the difficulties, and ultimately the social problems, that arise when Husserlian structures of time-consciousness are taken as a medically normal foundation. In the first part of this project, I argue that Husserlian structures of time-consciousness are uncritically reliant upon a linear flow of time itself and a linear flow of consciousness. In addition, the structures of time-consciousness must implicitly belong to a psychologically normal consciousness, because Husserl expressly excludes "the insane" from empathetic activities like world-time constitution due to the insane's lack of rational capacity. To support my claims, I turn to phenomenological psychiatry and cognitive science that study mental illness. Husserlian structures of time-consciousness have been used to explain the way abnormal experiences of time occur in certain patients diagnosed with mental illness. Historically speaking, this justifies my claim that Husserlian structures of time-consciousness can be taken as normal. In the second part of this project, I frame my critique of these difficulties in terms of Michel Foucault's historical epistemic conditions and in terms of power relations. Using the epistemic conditions Foucault claims frame the modern era (starting from the end of the 18th century), I construct an explanation for the employment of Husserlian phenomenology in the psychiatric field, based on a reliance upon the linear flow of time and linear flow of consciousness. Nevertheless, I argue that we must be cautious about viewing time-consciousness as a normal feature of human consciousness. This type of application is used in the service of what Foucault calls "demonstrative truth" that has dominated thought for centuries. This ultimately leads me to a critique of both truth and the social effects of using Husserlian time-consciousness as a tool in normalization practices, specifically medicalization, that can marginalize individuals unfairly.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Samuelson, Heidi A., "Out of Joint: The Nexus of Madness and Time-Consciousness" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 579.