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“Scientific” Healthcare and the Person: exemplifying relations between general laws and idiographic interpretation

Line Joranger


This paper highlights the relationship between the person and the philosophy of science and mental healthcare. Focusing on what are generally considered to be the main differences between the idiographic sciences, that is, the human sciences and the nomothetic sciences, that is, the natural sciences, the paper sketches with a distinctive set of analytical tools the complexity of the relations between these scientific poles when it comes to understanding and explaining a person. Through an interdisciplinary historical and existential-phenomenological way of thinking, the paper shows that as living beings, we are not just physical brains or marionettes in a reasonable historical development; rather, we are creative, reflexive actors who have an impact on scientific and cultural norms, which we also, consciously and subconsciously, adapt to. This is why scientists dealing with persons and psychological phenomena should not only seek to become a positivist Sherlock Holmes, intelligently discerning the concealed and buried meaning that is awaiting discovery, but in contrast, the detective who finds him or herself part of the game and thereby a co-creator of the science and mystery she or he seeks to solve.


Explanation, Foucault, Freud, idiographic sciences, interpretation, Jaspers, mental healthcare, nomothetic sciences, person-centered healthcare, personhood, phenomenology

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