Workshop: Psychopathology of time

17th November 2015, 09.00–17.00h.

Collegium Helveticum, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Schmelzbergstr. 25, 8006 Zurich   (

A philosophy and psychiatry workshop.

What is pathological regarding time experience and, more specifically, regarding human experience of the future – by all means the most important dimension of time? Is there a standard, neutral notion of the future, against which particular abnormal experiences could be assessed as such? Alternatively, is there, among the many context-dependent and value-laden notions of the future, a particularly “healthy” one?

These questions have been long debated in philosophy, outside of the medical context of mental health. Numerous distinctions between different “kinds” of future(s) have been made and explored, such as: determined future (Hempel), unpredictable future (Derrida), future as the Other (Levinas), progressive future (Koselleck), open-ended future (Arendt) or future toward-death (Heidegger). Philosophers have also analyzed problems related to conscious/unconscious horizon of expectation and to the contingency vs. necessity of the future. However, discussions of the deviation from “normality” have remained rare.

At the same time, psychopathological relevance of the varieties of lived time has been discussed within the field of phenomenological psychiatry. Investigating temporality as a pre-reflective structure of all experience and as a reflective attitude towards different dimensions of time, psychiatrists construed future experiences in terms of their abnormality, including phenomena such as: obstructed future (Gebsattel), others-determined future (Binswanger), disconnected future (Straus), uncontrollable future (Melges) or desynchronized future (Fuchs). Regardless of the real, ontological not-yet, future can be lived upon in many different ways, some of them apparently extreme, such as utopian future in addiction, presented future in mania, chaotic future in schizophrenia, fearful future in neurosis, repulsive future in phobias or constricted future in depression.

While it is widely agreed that having no future at all (as in the case of the time of the self coming to a standstill) is truly pathological, the variety of futures actually lived upon makes the question of the boundary between the normal and the pathological difficult to tackle. All the more so since the lived time is a collective phenomenon, subject to quickly changing socio-temporal norms, such as contemporary acceleration, resulting in general uncertainty of the shared future and the concomitant “neurosis” of our times.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together leading specialists in the interdisciplinary field of temporality studies in order to discuss these problems. Its key focus is to demarcate pathological future experiences from its non-pathological, even if unpleasant counterparts, while focusing on underlying, temporal foundations of mental disorders and taking advantage of philosophical notions of the future.

Speakers and titles:
Marcin Moskalewicz: Why Disturbed Futures? 

Thomas Fuchs: Temporality and Psychopathology

Claude Debru: Some Aspects of Anticipation and its Disturbances: from Future to Past

Michael A. Schwartz: Temporality in Mania: Phenomenological, Neurobiological and Therapeutic Consequences

Anne Giersch: Is time order in the environment or in our brain? The case of schizophrenia

Kai Vogeley, David Vogel: Experience of Time in Autism

Wolfgang Tschacher: Disturbed Temporal Synchronization and Resonance in Psychopathology

Kurt Stocker: Disturbed Future Thinking and Embodied Perspectives

Alice Holzhey-Kunz: The uncanny truth of being temporal. An existential-hermeneutic proposal for differentiating between ‘normal’ and ‘disturbed’ future experiences

Downloadable program:

Please register before November 13, 2015 by emailing:

Inquires to: Marcin Moskalewicz: moskalewicz[at], moskalewicz@collegium[at]


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