Enactive Psychiatry

An enactive approach to psychiatry provides an integrative account of the (1) experiential, (2) (neuro)physiological, (3) socio-cultural, and (4) existential dimensions that are at stake in psychiatric disorders.

Psychiatry is enormously complex. One of its main difficulties is to articulate the relationship between the wide assortment of factors that may cause or contribute to psychiatric disorders. Such factors range from traumatic experiences to dysfunctional neurotransmitters, existential worries, economic deprivation, social exclusion and genetic bad luck. The relevant factors and how they interact can differ not only between diagnoses but also between individuals with the same diagnosis. How should we understand and navigate such complexity? Enactive Psychiatry presents an integrative account of the many phenomena at play in the development and persistence of psychiatric disorders by drawing on insights from enactivism, a theory of embodied cognition. From the enactive perspective on the mind and its relation to both the body and the world, we can achieve a new understanding of the nature of psychiatric disorders and the causality involved in their development and treatment, thereby resolving psychiatry’s integration problem.

In the Introduction, I provide a short outline of the book and its main arguments.

For reviews of the book see:
Awais Aftab (2020), Enactive Psychiatry, Metapsychology Online.

Jelle Bruineberg (2021), Review of Sanneke de Haan’s Enactive Psychiatry, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

Dr. Awais Aftab has also interviewed me on the book for his interview series Conversations in Critical Psychiatry, in the Psychiatric Times.

Endorsements for Enactive Psychiatry:

‘Sanneke de Haan weaves together the neurophysiological, sociocultural, and existential dimensions of psychiatry by skilfully putting enactive ideas to work. Attending to human experience and scientific rigour in equal measure, this profound book is as close as anyone has come to a truly integrative account of psychiatric disorders.’
Ezequiel A. Di Paolo – Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science, Spain

‘This book addresses ‘the integration problem’ in psychiatry by developing an integrated account of brain-body-environment that cuts across experiential, physiological, and socio-cultural dimensions relevant to psychiatric practice and research. Although philosophically based, it is written for psychiatric practitioners and provides a lucid, innovative and brilliant analysis of both enactivist philosophy and its place in psychiatry.’
Shaun Gallagher – Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Philosophy, University of Memphis

‘The book is very well-written and remarkably accessible. Readers without much philosophical background would nonetheless be able to understand and follow the discussion. De Haan systematically takes the readers through each step of her thought process and presents her ideas with great clarity. Even though De Haan is tackling some of the most complex ideas in philosophy and psychiatry, her writing is simple and graceful, and perhaps for that reason, wonderfully aphoristic and immensely quotable.’
Awais Aftab Metapsychology Online Reviews

‘Sanneke de Haan’s precise thinking and compassionate investigation of the human condition perfectly embodies the enactive spirit.’
Hanne De Jaegher – University of the Basque Country, Spain

‘In this rigorous work, Sanneke de Haan provides a jargon-free overview of the enactive approach, extends it further into value theory and existentialism, and ultimately makes a highly compelling case for its relevance as a much-needed integrative framework for psychiatry. It is essential for anyone interested in non-reductionist approaches to mental disorders.’
Giovanna Colombetti – University of Exeter

Other publications on an Enactive approach to psychiatry:

Sanneke de Haan (2020), Bio-psycho-social interaction: An enactive Perspective. International Review of Psychiatry, pp.1-8

Sanneke de Haan (2020), An enactive approach to psychiatry. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 27 (1), pp. 3-25.

Sanneke de Haan (2020), Enactivism as a new framework for psychiatry. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 27 (1), pp. 1-2.

Sanneke de Haan (2020), Enactive causality: Interventions, cakes and clockworks. A reply to Gallagher and Donovan and Murphy. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 27 (1), pp. 31-33.

Sanneke de Haan (2017), The existential dimension in psychiatry: an enactive framework. Mental Health, Religion & Culture 6, pp. 528-535.

Sanneke de Haan (2013), De existentiële dimensie van de psychiatrie: een enactivistische benadering. Psyche & Geloof 24-2, pp. 130-140.

Online talk: Sanneke de Haan (2019) – An enactive approach to psychiatry. ENSO Seminar Series.