The contemporary importance of the idiographic in mental healthcare

Thornton, Tim orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0137-1554 (2022) The contemporary importance of the idiographic in mental healthcare. In: Ten Years of Idiographic Science. Yearbook of Idiographic Science . Information Age Publishing (IAP), Covent Garden, United Kingdom, pp. 191-204. ISBN 9798887300283

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In response to concerns about the subsuming of individuals under essential general psychiatric diagnostic categories, there have been calls for an idiographic component in person specific diagnostic formulations. The distinction between the idiographic and nomothetic was introduced by Windelband as his contribution to the Methodenstreit. However, as I have argued elsewhere, it is unclear what the distinction is supposed to comprise. In this chapter, I attempt to shed light on the motivation for the distinction by looking at a number of recent approaches to healthcare that share a concern with a focus on individuals. Despite this shared element in their motivation, I argue that none help to articulate the nature of the idiographic itself.
This chapter broadens the central claim of my chapter in the 2019 Yearbook of Idiographic Science, here drawing on a clue from Windelband’s student Rickert to argue that there is a role for the idiographic in healthcare though not as a form of judgement, understanding or intelligibility but rather a specific singular interest in an individual. It is this that also underpins developments in healthcare related to the individual or person.

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