The intersubjective endeavor of psychopathology research: methodological reflections on a second-person perspective approach

Article


Galbusera, Laura and Fellin, L. 2014. The intersubjective endeavor of psychopathology research: methodological reflections on a second-person perspective approach. Frontiers in Psychology. 5 (1150).
AuthorsGalbusera, Laura and Fellin, L.
Abstract

Research in psychopathology may be considered as an intersubjective endeavor mainly
concerned with understanding other minds. Thus, the way we conceive of social
understanding influences how we do research in psychology in the first place. In this paper,
we focus on psychopathology research as a paradigmatic case for this methodological
issue, since the relation between the researcher and the object of study is characterized
by a major component of “otherness.” We critically review different methodologies in
psychopathology research, highlighting their relation to different social cognition theories
(the third-, first-, and second-person approaches). Hence we outline the methodological
implications arising from each theoretical stance. Firstly, we critically discuss the
dominant paradigm in psychopathology research, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) and on quantitative
methodology, as an example of a third-person methodology. Secondly, we contrast
this mainstream view with phenomenological psychopathology which—by rejecting the
reductionist view exclusively focused on behavioral symptoms—takes consciousness as
its main object of study: it therefore attempts to grasp patients’ first-person experience.
But how can we speak about a first-person perspective in psychopathology if the
problem at stake is the experience of the other? How is it possible to understand the
experience from “within,” if the person who is having this experience is another? By
addressing these issues, we critically explore the feasibility and usefulness of a secondperson
methodology in psychopathology research. Notwithstanding the importance of
methodological pluralism, we argue that a second-person perspective should inform
the epistemology and methods of research in psychopathology, as it recognizes the
fundamental circular and intersubjective construction of knowledge.

JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Journal citation5 (1150)
ISSN1664-1078
Year2014
PublisherFrontiers
Publisher's version
License
CC BY
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01150
Publication dates
Print17 Oct 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Jan 2016
Accepted23 Sep 2014
FunderMarie Curie Initial Training Network
Copyright information© 2014 Galbusera and Fellin This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission.
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