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Spencer Knafelc

Philosophy PhD Student

I'm a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. I'm interested in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of cognitive science, and the philosophy of psychiatry. I'm currently thinking about philosophical issues associated with the ways that various mental health interventions change how we understand ourselves, and how they impact our self-narratives. Depending on the theoretical orientation of your psychiatrist or therapist, you may come to understand your psychological distress as resulting from a 'brain disease', unconscious conflicts, maladaptive thought patterns, or as best explained by socio-political forces. My work involves adopting a narrative perspective on how various interventions affect patients. One of my core aims is to assess the role of truth. Many suggest that the truth of our narratives that result from mental health interventions is not so important. What matters instead is psychological benefit. I argue that truth is a dimension that deserves more thought and attention. 
I'm also interested in the nature of self-narratives more broadly. These are complex psychological entities that I take to play a central role in our mental lives. One question I address is the nature of the relationship between the capacity for narrative thought and our abilities as human agents.  I'm also interested in how the empirical investigation of self-narratives relates to current psychiatric research practice, which often involves the tendency to understand psychopathology at the level of neural circuitry and genetics. Is there insight to be gleaned into the nature of mental disorder by examining how our narrative
thinking can go awry? 


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