Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos del Principado de Asturias).
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Psicothema, 2008. Vol. Vol. 20 (nº 2). 181-187

Hyperreflexivity as a condition of mental disorder: A clinical and historical perspective

Marino Pérez-Álvarez

University of Oviedo

Hyperreflexivity, understood as intensified self-consciousness in which subjects disengage from normal forms of involvement with nature and society, often considering themselves as objects of focal awareness, is proposed here as a condition of mental disorders, without which they would not exist. This thesis is argued from a dual perspective: clinical and historical. In the clinical perspective, it is shown that hyperreflexivity is not merely concomitant with mental disorders, but indeed has causal priority over them. Empirical evidence of a correlational, experimental and therapeutic nature, or deriving from cultural change, supports this claim of causal priority. In the historical perspective, it is shown that hyperreflexivity depends on certain historical-cultural circumstances that have prevailed since the Renaissance. These circumstances have to do with the emergence of the modern subject, displaced, autonomous and condemned to a hapless ‘interior journey’. This means that mental disorders as such would not have existed prior to that era. Nor in the wake of the Renaissance would mental disorders automatically come into being, depending as they do on a reflexive, institutional clinical context, which would not emerge until practically the nineteenth century, but which would extend swiftly from then on.

La hiperreflexividad como condición de los trastornos mentales: una perspectiva clínica e histórica. La hiperreflexividad, entendida como autoconciencia intensificada en la que el sujeto se desvincula de las formas normales de implicación con la naturaleza y la sociedad tomándose a sí mismo como su propio objeto, se propone aquí como condición de los trastornos mentales, sin la cual éstos no existirían. Esta tesis es argumentada en una doble perspectiva: clínica e histórica. En la perspectiva clínica se muestra que la hiperreflexividad no es un mero concomitante de los trastornos mentales, sino que tiene prioridad causal sobre ellos. Esta prioridad causal es sostenida por evidencia empírica de tipo correlacional, experimental, terapéutica y de cambio cultural. En la perspectiva histórica se muestra que la hiperreflexividad depende de ciertas circunstancias histórico-culturales dadas a partir del Renacimiento. Estas circunstancias tienen que ver con el surgimiento del sujeto moderno, desvinculado, autónomo y abocado a un desdichado ‘viaje interior’. Quiere decir que los trastornos mentales propiamente dichos no existirían antes de esta época. Después de ella, los trastornos mentales tampoco existirían de forma automática, porque dependen de un contexto clínico reflexivo, institucional, que no se empezaría a dar prácticamente hasta el siglo XIX y sería galopante en adelante.


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