Psychiatry again finds itself in a period when hard sciences such as neuroscience, pharmacology, and genetics are hugely important; yet, as with the early 20th century, the clinical benefits of decades of neuroscientific research are as yet to lead to improvements in patient care and clinical outcomes. In this Chapter I focus on objectification and the Inhuman Gaze, both in the sense of how someone with schizophrenia may feel when perceived by the other, but also with regard to how the complex subjective experiences of mental disorder may be conceptualised as an object for clinical and scientific scrutiny.

In the first section, I outline current understandings of psychopathology and how, as an approach, it is crucial to the practice of psychiatry, both clinically and as a research endeavour. I suggest that phenomenological psychopathology may be a means to maintain a focus on the person and to offer a human, alongside an inhuman, gaze. In the second section, I discuss the wholly objective somatic focus in psychiatry via Jaspers’ critique of the ‘first biological psychiatry’ of the nineteenth century, and his attempt to reorient psychopathology as a science by drawing on pluralistic methods including biological and hermeneutic approaches. In the third section, I detail French thinkers (Bergson, Minkwoski, Merleau-Ponty) and how their ways of conceptualising mental life and experience may go beyond Jaspers and allow us to have a psychopathology and a psychiatry that can think coherently about dynamic, indeterminate, and fluctuating mental states.