My research has been concerned with developing the potentially rich connections between philosophy and a number of areas of mental health practice. I have looked in particular at the ways in which values come into psychiatric assessment and diagnosis (as well as into ethical and medico-legal aspects of treatment). This is important practically in a number of areas including, 1) prevention of abuse (much abusive practice in psychiatry arises from the imposition of political or other values leading to distortions of practice, as in the former USSR), 2) better recognition of the patient's perspective, 3) assessment of competence (for example, in relation to legal capacity and the proper role of psychiatrists as expert witnesses), and 4) better understanding of psychopathological concepts (such as delusion, obsession, addiction and hallucination), their relationship to judgements of rationality, and the significance of cross-cultural and gender bias. Psychopathology offers a particularly exciting area of contact between philosophy and practice at the present time. In addition to value theory, a number of cross-over topics between mental health and both the philosophy of mind (e.g., autism/other minds, multiple personality/personal identity) and the philosophy of science (e.g., psychological causation, unconscious mental processes) have been brought into sharp focus by developments in such areas as artificial intelligence and dynamic brain imaging.
My long-term aim is to help strengthen the links between philosophy and mental health through the development of a programme of postgraduate teaching and research which will encourage a two-way exchange of knowledge, skills and experience between philosophers and those with practical experience. The main focus of this will be at Warwick, but I am also involved in helping to set up academic groups for philosophy and mental health in several countries around the world and in editing a new journal for the subject, PPP — Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology.
- Moral Theory and Medical Practice, Cambridge University Press, 1989, Reprinted 1995. This gives a detailed analysis of the links between philosophy and mental health practice
- ‘Philosophy and Medicine: the Oxford Connection’, British Journal of Psychiatry 157, 1990.
- ‘Thought Insertion and Insight: Disease and Illness Paradigms of Psychotic Disorder’, in M. Spitzer, F. Uehlein, M. Schwartz and C. Mundt (eds.), Phenomenology, Language and Schizophrenia, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1993.
- ‘Psychiatric Ethics: a Bioethical Ugly Duckling?’ (with Tony Hope), in R. Gillon & A. Lloyd (eds.), Principles of Health Care Ethics, John Wiley and Sons, 1993.
- ‘Concepts of Disease and the Abuse of Psychiatry in the USSR, (with Alex Smirnoff and Elena Snow), British Journal of Psychiatry 162, 1993.
- ‘Value, Action, Mental Health and the Law’, in S. Shute, J. Gardener and J. Horder (eds.), Action and Value in Criminal Law, Oxford University Press, 1993.
- ‘Mental Illness and the Mind-Brain Problem: Delusion, Belief and Searle’s Theory of Intentionality’, Theoretical Medicine 14, 1993.
- ‘Closet Logics: Hidden Conceptual Elements in the DSM and ICD Classifications of Mental Disorders’, in J.Z. Sadler, O.P. Wiggins and M.A. Schwartz (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Psychiatric Diagnostic Classification, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
- ‘Insight, Delusion and the Intentionality of Action: Framework for a Philosophical Psychopathology’, in G. Graham and G.L. Stephens (eds.), Philosophical Psychopathology, MIT Press, 1994.
- ‘Medical Education: Knowledge and Know-how’, in R. Chadwick (ed.), Ethics and the Professions, The Avebury Press, 1994.
- ‘Thought Insertion, Insight and Descartes’ Cogito: Linguistic Analysis and the Descriptive Psychopathology of Schizophrenic Thought Disorder’, in A. Sims (ed.), Speech and Language Disorders, Gaskell Press, 1995.
- ‘Mind and Madness: New Directions in the Philosophy of Psychiatry’, in A. Phillips Griffiths (ed.), Philosophy, Psychology and Psychiatry, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
I am also the programme director for the Philosophy and Ethics of Mental Health Course, and convenor for the MA in Philosophy and Ethics of Mental Health.