Schutzian Research

Volume 1, 2009

Bernhard Waldenfels
Pages 51-65

Doubled Otherness in Ethnopsychiatry

Starting from the experience of the Other, phenomenology takes otherness as something which withdraws from my own experience and exceeds the limits of our common orders. Radical otherness is something extraordinary, arising in my own body, situated between us and striking us before we look for it. Psychiatry confronts us with a peculiar sort of pathological otherness which in ethnopsychiatry is doubled to an otherness of a higher degree. We encounter the anomalies of other orders as if we were dipping into the Other’s shadow. This brings up many questions. How is the pathic related to the pathological, the normal to the abnormal? How can psychiatry take account of the intercultural Other without sacrificing its otherness to universal points of view? How is the unconsciousness of our own culture connected with that of other cultures? To what extent does intercultural otherness affect our intracultural otherness? Is there an alternative to the extremes of fundamentalism and globalism, which tend either to repress otherness or to level it?