4 - Introspection, extrospection and denial of privileged access in psychiatry 

4 - Introspection, extrospection and denial of privileged access in psychiatry

PI: Jun.-Professor Dr. Sascha Benjamin FINK

Contact: sfink@ovgu.de

Website: http://www.finks.de/finks/SBFink.html

To diagnose, a psychiatrist has to come to conclusions about the mental state of patients in a reasoned and evidence-based way. First-person introspective reports by patients are still used, but “privileged access” is not necessarily granted. Instead, third- and second-person methods (EEG, fMRI, behavior, etc.) as well as higher-order evidence (likelihood or coherence of reports) are consulted as well.

How are these different intro- and extrospective sources weighed and compared in psychiatric reasoning, especially when there a multiple interpretations of the data available or if there are conflicts between intro- and extrospective data? The project intends to analyse its underlying structure with current philosophical tools, and investigates under which circumstances correcting or overwriting introspective reports of a patient by a psychiatrist is justifiable – and when it is not. The goal is to produce steps towards general models of psychiatric reasoning or the machinery underlying introspection, in part by focusing on concrete examples like the distinction between Charles-Bonnet- or Anton’s Syndrome as well as the distinction between hallucination and cognitive delusion. This project is done in cooperation with Charité.

Possible approaches include:

(1) Philosophy of mind: Develop models and mechanisms for introspective processes that allow us to locate sources of introspective error,

(2) Epistemology: Systematise possible sources for introspective errors, how certain circumstances (e.g. gender of an interlocutor, open vs. yes-no question, pathology, etc.) aggravate certain errors,

(3) Methodology: Model how evidences from different intro- and extrospective methods interact, are weighed, and compared,

(4) Philosophy of psychiatry: Focus on specific pathologies or case studies in order to elucidate whether, for this case, it is justifiable to distrust or trust the reports of an individual.

Requirements for research topic 4

(1) The desire to engage with and contribute to international scientific literature,
(2) The ability to engage with relevant psychiatric and philosophical literature,
(3) Familiarity with contemporary literature in philosophy of mind, epistemology, or theories of reasoning,
(4) Willingness and aptitude for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration,
(5) Willingness to fully participate in the research, education and training program of the RTG,
(6) Proficiency in English,
(7) Master's degree in a relevant field.

Applications for research topic 4

(1) A proposal for a doctoral project in research topic 4: "Introspection, extrospection and denial of privileged access in psychiatry" (max. 5 pages in Arial 11, single spaced, plus max. 3 pages references),
(2) A meaningful letter of motivation (max. 2 pages),
(3) Full academic CV,
(4) Copies/scans of Bachelor's and Master's certificates,
(5) Transcript of records for Master's degree.

Please send the above in one PDF file of no more than 7 MB.

Please name the file as follows: YourName_RTG_Topic4

Application deadline

currently no research positions advertised

Application address



Two letters of reference should be sent directly to: Dr. Dirk Mende, mb-extrospection@hu-berlin.de

Guidelines for referees for Topic 4 - please send them to your referees:

This page last updated on: 10 January 2022