Professor Sherrilyn Roush:
"Hypochondria and Self-recalibration":
Health-anxious patients (HA) are prone to catastrophic misinterpretation of symptoms and biased substantive beliefs about illness, among other things, but there is growing evidence that dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs - beliefs about thinking - are the driving factor, with dysfunctional substantive beliefs a side-effect, and that Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) is more effective than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
One metacognitive belief that has not been studied is exhibited in the health anxious behavior of excessively seeking medical care and rejecting doctor reassurance, namely, the belief: "I am a reliable judge of whether my symptoms are serious." I argue that this is a belief that the patient has the means to falsify and adjust, and I propose a technique whereby when healthcare-seeking impulses arise the patient uses his own track record to re-calibrate his confidence that medical attention is needed. This technique could supplement MCT, and addresses some limitations of both MCT and CBT.
Professor Fabian Freyenhagen,
Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Essex Autonomy Project, University of Essex:
"Do societies make us ill? Are societies ill themselves? For many centuries philosophers and social theorists answered one or both of these questions in the affirmative - for example, Plato spoke of democracies as being "feverish", Marx claimed that to labour under capitalist conditions "mortifies the flesh and ruins the mind", and Durkheim suggested that we could see how ill a society was by how many of its members committed suicide (and in what way). Similarly, in political and everyday discourse, medical metaphors have been applied at the social level - such as, in the aftermath of the financial crash, claims about Greece's being the 'sick man of Europe'. Medical sociology has been on the rise in recent decades, and social scientists have increasingly investigated the consequences of policy decisions on the health of societies and individuals, including mental health. However, theorists in contemporary philosophy largely avoid any talk of social pathology. For them such claims are unjustifiable due to the plurality of worldviews typical of modern society and/or because they imply a problematic social ontology (i.e. problematic accounts of what kind of thing society is). I will suggest that we would do well to resurrect this notion."