Event refers to an occurrence or experience in the lifeworld of human beings which is an exception or rupture that opens new horizons in life. It derives from Being and Event, the key work of philosopher Alain Badiou which updates and replaces subjective phenomenology, the dominant philosophy of the 20th century that was introduced into psychiatry a century ago through the seminal work of Karl Jaspers. Phenomenological psychiatry became the exemplary model for clinical psychiatry for much of the last century, with many elaborations and refinements by figures as diverse as Eugène Minkowski, Ludwig Binswanger and Ronald Laing.
Badiou’s evental thought outlines a new objective phenomenology for philosophy and the human sciences, including psychiatry. Ever since its foundation by Edmund Husserl, phenomenology has had pioneering psychiatrists apply its philosophy to clinical practice. Husserl inspired Jaspers’ phenomenological psychiatry, while his successor Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time inspired Binswanger’s existential analysis. Sartre’s reading of Heidegger in Being and Nothingness inspired the social phenomenology of Ronald Laing. Our generation now has the inspiration of Badiou’s objective phenomenology in Being and Event to revision psychiatry today. The author recently conducted philosophical investigations supervised by Badiou for his doctoral dissertation entitled Trauma and Event which re-examined trauma by contrasting it to the Event. Working closely with Badiou, the author proposes that the pivotal notion of the Event offers psychiatry and all forms of psychotherapy (from psychoanalysis to family therapy to cognitive therapy) a theory of change (evental being), a new definition of the subject (evental self), and therapeutic practices (evental therapy) that flow from that. Badiou affirms that the author’s proposal for an evental psychiatry opens a broad new horizon for philosophy and for psychiatry.
The presentation will outline three possible model Events for psychiatry and for psychotherapy with clinical illustrations. As well as describing the phenomena of psychiatry in a new, objective way and offering a new theory of change, evental psychiatry also accounts for a new definition of the subject of psychiatry and psychotherapy, the evental self. The self that emerges from the Event will be outlined and linked to contemporary issues in clinical psychiatry.