psychiatry (2)


Dr. Christopher Bollas, psychoanalyst-theorist

In 2016 the internationally renowned British (and American) psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas (one of my fav. of this school of psychology) has given an excellent lecture on "Mental Pain" and offers his decades of clinical experience, his creative original thought, and what I see as a profound wisdom of understanding the relationship of the self, to the mind, to the society (and history and politics). Go to:


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I just found a new 300pp doctoral dissertation entitled: "Fear: A Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Therapy" Starkstein2016%20Fear.pdf by Dr. Sergio Starkstein, out of Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. Wow... I have not read it but I highly recommend it to all serious students of fear, fearism, fearology... etc. I look forward to some of you posting about its content and approach on the FM ning in the coming weeks... Below is the Abstract (and brief Bio):

Abstract Fear is a critical emotion in everyday life as it permeates many of our minor and major decisions. Explicitly or implicitly, fear is one of the emotions that most strongly shape human life. In this thesis fear and its philosophical remedies will be analysed through the work of western philosophers and thinkers selected based on their overall contributions in conceptualizing fear and suggesting therapies for reducing its more damaging effects. The study will show how Epicurus, Cicero and Seneca considered fear as the main obstacle in achieving peace of mind, and their ethical systems were primarily focused on dealing with this emotion by proposing eclectic philosophical therapies. Montaigne presented a humanist therapy of fear instrumented as a critical self-analysis. In contrast, a reductionist trend in thinking about fear emerged during the 17th century with the growth of materialistic philosophy. Thomas Hobbes reduced fear into a necessary tool for social control, whereas René Descartes demoted fear to a secondary emotion enacted by a dualist mechanism. This trend continued with William James’s conception of fear as a sensory-somatic reflex, and with Sigmund Freud’s hypothesis of a neurotic fear resulting from universal unconscious laws. I will also discuss how current neuroscience has reduced fear to decontextualized neural changes, and how the dominant trend in psychiatry has reified anxiety into arbitrary nomenclatures of unclear validity. On a completely different tack Ludwig Wittgenstein provided a broad ‘perspicuous presentation’ of fear, but his nuanced analysis has been largely ignored in philosophical studies. Overall it can be seen that, in keeping with the scientific revolution, the influential perspectives throughout the philosophical history of fear change from understandings that philosophy itself and reason are the best therapies for fear towards the medicalization of fear that is dominant today. By following these specific and diverse historical convergences, however, their criss-crossing insights and oversights, the thesis aims to enhance the conceptual understanding of fear and the variety of perspectives and therapies available for accommodating its enduring influence in our lives.


Bio (I asked Sergio about his background to this Ph.D. and he graciously wrote back:)

Dear Michael

Thanks for your kind words. I am a neuropsychiatrist working in Perth, Western Australia. I started my philosophy studies in Buenos Aires in the year 2000. I resumed my studies after migrating to Australia at the University of Western Australia, where I obtained my B.A.(Hons). I then transferred to Murdoch University to do my Ph.D. in philosophy, which took me 8 years to complete, as I work full time. This is in a nutshell my story.

I was always interested in philosophy, which I enjoy reading and practicing. Fear and anxiety are in my blood, as is usually the case with Jews living in South America, although I spent half of my professional life abroad (5 years at Hopkins in Baltimore and 15 in Australia).

Many thanks for posting my abstract. The dissertation is now in book format, and I am awaiting a (hopefully positive) referee report before it gets published by an English printer.

This is all I have to say!



(Oct. 28/17)


I appreciate this short bio and I would like to keep in touch. I look forward to reading your work ... wow ... 8 years ... and working full time, and yes, I think the Jewish perspective of your life and your peoples is an important one to the Fear Problem on this planet. 
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