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Flight of ideas – death of a definition: a discussion on phenomenology

  • Neil Jeyasingam (a1)
Summary

Phenomenology provides the foundations on which the functions of modern psychiatry stand. It also provides a common language for the assessment of patients, and for the education of the next generation of psychiatrists. However, phenomenology is not anchored in independent clinicopathological correlates, and therefore it is vulnerable to subtle alterations over time. This article briefly discusses some concepts regarding phenomenology and attempts to comment on the various definitions available under the common descriptor termed ‘flight of ideas'. It is asserted that without appropriate monitoring and teaching of these basic descriptors and recognising the value of historical observations, serious inconsistencies will continue to arise in clinical theory and practice, which may prove difficult to rectify.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Neil Jeyasingam (njeyasingam@nsccahs.health.nsw.gov.au)
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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1 Kant, I (1781) Critique of Pure Reason. Dover Philosophical Classics, 2003.
2 Husserl, E. Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (trans. Boyce Gibson, WR). George Allen & Unwin, 1931.
3 Mullen, P. A modest proposal for another phenomenological approach to psychopathology. Schizophr Bull 2007; 33: 113–21.
4 Kahlbaum, KL. Catatonia (trans. Levi, Y, Pridon, T). The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
5 Taylor, MA, Fink, M. Catatonia in psychiatric classification: a home of its own. Am J Psychiatry 2003; 160: 1233–41.
6 Liepmann, H. Über Ideenflucht: Begriffsbestimmung und psychologische Analyse [About Flight of Ideas: Definition and Psychological Analysis]. Carl Marhold, 1904.
7 Bleuler, E. Textbook of Psychiatry (trans. Brill, AA). George Allen & Unwin, 1923.
8 Diefendorf, AR, Kraepelin, E. Clinical Psychiatry: A Textbook for Students and Physicians (abstracted and adapted from the 7th German edition of Kraepelin's Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie): pp. 381422. MacMillan Co, 1923.
9 Beck, A. Depression. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1972.
10 Hamilton, M (ed.) Fish's Clinical Psychopathology, Signs and Symptoms in Psychiatry. John Wright & Sons, 1974.
11 Andreasen, N. Thought, language and communication disorders. 1. Clinical assessment, definition of terms, and evaluation of their reliability. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1979; 36: 1315–21.
12 Mullen, P. The mental states and states of mind. In The Essentials of Postgraduate Psychiatry (eds Murray, R, Hill, PD, McGuffin, P): 340. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
13 Andreasen, N. Introductory Textbook of Psychiatry. Donald Black, American Psychiatric Publishing, 1995.
14 Egeland, JA, Hostetter, AM, Eshleman, SK 3rd. Amish Study, III: the impact of cultural factors on diagnosis of bipolar illness. Am J Psychiatry 1983; 140: 6771.
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16 Andreasen, NC. DSM and the death of phenomenology in America: an example of unintended consequences. Schizophr Bull 2007; 33: 108–12.
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Flight of ideas – death of a definition: a discussion on phenomenology

  • Neil Jeyasingam (a1)
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