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Apathetic children: a phenomenological interpretation of a psychiatric epidemic in Sweden
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences.
2008 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Purpose: Since 2001, over four hundred children and adolescents in Sweden, who all have been asylum seekers, have developed a psychiatric syndrome with more or less complete loss of mental and physical functions. These children have been called “apathetic”. This epidemic has led to considerable interest, both in Sweden and abroad. The media debate about this epidemic has mostly centred on the possibilities of simulation or parental forcing of their children. The psychiatric debate has centred mostly on different diagnostic possibilities. There has also been an extensive ethical debate both among professionals and on the public arena. Not much interest has been paid to the syndrome from a phenomenological perspective.

Method: I will in this paper present the key case that I was summoned by the Swedish government to examine. This is the case of Makram, 11 years of age, who had been in an almost persistent apathetic state since one and a half year. The case will be interpreted using thoughts from Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger.

Results: The life experience of Makram will be discussed in terms of a total withdrawal from the world, which is interpreted as a solution to lift off an all too heavy burden within the family. The process into apathy will be discussed in relation to psychiatric and philosophical concepts like withdrawal and stupor. My discussion will centre on possible interpretations from a phenomenological perspective based on interviews with patients.

Conclusion: The key interpretation will be that this is a syndrome characterized by a withdrawal from being in the communal world and stay in a private world until circumstances have changed enough to elicit a longing for coming back to the real world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Psychiatry
Research subject
Psychiatry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-3687OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-3687DiVA, id: diva2:137985
Conference
European Conference on Philosophy of Medicine and Health Care
Available from: 2008-12-17 Created: 2008-12-17 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Engström, Ingemar

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf