2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mental Health Development and the Problematic Debate Surrounding it

Public health is widely regarded as one of the most important societal and medical objectives, yet what constitutes health? While on the surface this may appear to be a simple question with a straightforward response, there is no universal consensus. Considering there is no universal accepted definition of health, how does health manifest itself in reality?
Recent years have seen an increase of awareness being paid to mental health, and it appears reasonable to conclude that this will result in positive outcomes. Although this may be true, this paper contends debates on mental health development are unlikely to produce solutions. This is due to the fact that most western societies adhere to a doctrine of morality known as emotivism.
As a first step, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of two definitions of health. Since there is no universal consensus on the definition of health, this becomes problematic in the mental health debate. Referencing MacIntyre, the second section of this paper will argue that the existing moral language has been fragmented and essentially lost, thereby rendering moral claims arbitrary in nature. The notion of human flourishing will be discussed in the middle of the paper in order to develop, not only debates on mental health but, the mental health of the collective. Next, it will challenge thinkers like Kant, Hume, and Pascal who reject the teleological aspect of human nature. Additionally, this paper presents MacIntyre’s reformulation of Aristotle’s notion of human flourishing in modern terms, introducing three aspects, namely, the concept of practice, the narrative unity of human life, and a living tradition.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Are women a priority in medical care? A theoretical analysis of endometriosis and the menopause

My project is based on the question ‘Are women a priority in medical care? A theoretical analysis of endometriosis and the menopause.’ This question therefore looks at women’s general treatment as well as the specified problems their sex goes through and how the medical system impacts their life as it perpetuates the patriarchal norms in society. The dominant philosophy integrated through this work is the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir and her concept of the woman as the other as she highlights women as a second to men and thereby put as a lesser priority which is a common theme when discussing how the medical system treats women. The first section discusses Beauvoir and the relation to women’s medical care as well as thinkers such as bell hooks, Judith Butler who analyse the problem of intersectionality for women who have other struggles than just being a woman such as women of colour and transgender women who both face problems white cisgendered women face. In the second section ‘women as the body’ I discuss how women’s body is significant due to their reproductive ability. Here discusses how those who suffer with endometriosis are only cared for in the case of fertility rather than for pain. In the section of the ‘aging woman’ Beauvoir’s concept of the third sex is discussed as it explains women’s break away from her reproductive system and into a sex that is no longer considered ‘woman’.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

How did the Covid-19 Pandemic affect the population?

My paper will explore the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global population, with a focus on its effects on the UK. During the pandemic, there were multiple lockdowns, inflicted by the government, that changed the way we lived drastically. Research shows the rise in levels of stress, anxiety and, depression with an overall decrease in the population’s mental health. My research aims to explore the social and psychological impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the population. The philosophical concepts that will be used, will provide a baseline and foundation into why the expected freedom and typical normalities of day-to-day life, that were taken away from us during the pandemic, were so important in our human understanding and human agency. Incorporating evidence from personal correspondence, statistics, alongside Philosophical concepts, this research will demonstrate that there has been a drastic social change in society. I will be arguing two theses in this essay that I believe to be extremely important to consider and explore. Firstly, the regulations during the pandemic have distorted social relations and affected our human understanding about ourselves and the society we live in. Additionally, we have not yet returned to the same place we were in as a society before the pandemic hit. These claims are particularly clear throughout the research involved within this essay.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The extreme task of prioritising patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Object – The object I will be examining is to do with the question of medical treatment and prioritisation in UK hospitals, in relation to a pandemic scenario such as covid-19 pandemic.

How – I am applying different ethical concepts to the question of prioritisation in order to find which one will be the most helpful in deciding which patients to treat.

Why – I am looking at this because it has been a very relevant problem during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully I can find the best way to prioritise patients

Concepts & thinkers:
Fletcher – situations ethics
Mill – Rule Utilitarianism
Foucault – Biopolitics and governmentality

Main sources:
Fletcher – Situation Ethics: the new morality
Mill – Utilitarianism
Foucault –The Birth of Biopolitics

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Correlation Between the Mental Health Crisis and Late-Stage Capitalism: Can the Eastern Practice of Mindfulness Help?

For decades, the correlation between the continuing rise in mental health cases and late-stage capitalism has been theorised by philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists. However, the problem still remains, and we are yet to find an adequate solution.
Individuals continue to be exploited by pharmaceutical companies more and more each year, as the rates in mental illnesses increase and in turn, so does the income of pharmaceutical companies who provide anti-psychotics.
This is where the Eastern practice of mindfulness seems like a viable alternative. Can mindfulness bridge help individuals that are suffering with their mental health, by eliminating this problem of contributing the exploitation of capitalist pharmaceutical companies?

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Has lockdown justly taken away our liberty?

The aim of this project is to determine if an approach which is based on trading off negative and positive liberty assess properly whether the lockdown was just or not? Within this project both positive and negative liberty will be measured within each theory. Comparing them whereby the positive sense protects life versus the negative sense in which our liberties are restricted. Both a Utilitarian and Hobbes social contract theory shall lean towards a more epistemologically positive approach to this. Through trying to give objective truths to measure the positive and negative liberties at play. While Badiou and Deleuze’s theory on the event shall offer a sceptical epistemological approach. They give a differing answer from a ‘simplistic’ objective approach. Finally, through Foucault and his biopolitics, we are able to highlight perhaps another force which is in play; power. Where in fact our pursuit for reintroduction of liberty is a paradox which was subsequently never there in the first place.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

‘A philosophical investigation to whether the prevalent overuse of social media has a negative impact on mental health’

Due to the recent surge of both social media and overall decline of mental health this project title was chosen, and it seeks to discover a correlation between the two. Social medias rapid growth will be showcased to show its embryonic state, showing its lack of reliability. Once the link is discovered studies supporting the direct link will be showcased as well as Simon Sinek’s motivational talks about raising a generation on dopamine devices, which subsequently forms addiction and destruction of relationships. The ability to maintain healthy relationships is a key aspect in sustaining a good mental health. The philosophical investigation will then be carried out to come to the bottom of the issue, to uncover the deeper problems of SM in relation to the human psyche. Baudrillard’s concept of a ‘hyperreality’ (real without origin of reality) and Borgmann’s ‘virtual fog’ (seeping into human connection) will be explored. Borgmann, Baudrillard and Sinek harmoniously highlight that real life and real humans are complicated enough without adding this hyperreal virtual fog that further scrambles our brains- amplified into a kind of tortuous labyrinth which produces feelings of loneliness and deteriorates our mental states the more we attempt to make sense of it and the further we travel this untrodden idle path. Sartre ties it all together at the end with his ‘existence proceeds essence’, his fight for the potential of locating an authentic self. This potentiality is, arguably, being cut off by this hyperreal virtual fog. Inauthentic human existence produces melancholy. Reclaiming this, is possible as long as the prevalent overuse of social media is recognised as something inherently negative and reduced. Essentially this philosophical investigation concludes that the prevalent overuse of social media negatively impacts overall mental health.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

To investigate representations and models of beauty with a view of understanding whether they are inherently oppressive or whether they can be a liberation if one “takes control” of them

This project will be looking into the representations and models of beauty with a view of understanding whether they are inherently oppressive or liberating. The beauty industry along with the media industry have advanced in such a way that we see a correlation with the rise of beauty standards and a decline in mental health in women (and sometimes men) in society today. Furthermore, it will be Investigating as well as arguing whether the beauty industry is truly corrupting the minds of the younger generations or whether they are aiding the younger generations in finding their liberation. The findings showed that mental health is suffering greatly amongst the youth and there are numerous statistics to show links to social media platforms, especially those promoting vanity. Even conservative countries like Saudi Arabia give crucial priority to the western industrialised culture and hence embark on the westernised criteria of beauty standards. The philosophers touched upon in the project including Georg Hegel, David Hume, as well as influential feminist thinkers like Kathy Davis and Kathryn Morgan have demonstrated that the underlying deeper motive for women’s bodies undergoing so much exploitation is all a consequence of wanting the approval of the male species.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Why the vast majority of schools today are outdated and ineffective

Social and emotional skills are situated at the heart of human lives. We are social beings that depend on collaborative behaviour to thrive in any given society, yet historically and traditionally speaking our society promotes competitive behaviours that have damaging effects on our emotional and social well-being. Over the recent years mental health awareness has been growing rapidly and more people are waking up to the fact that our emotional intelligence is just as important, if not more, than our intelligence quotient. This notion has stimulated an explosion of exploration into the educational process and this essay will explore why the vast majority of schools today still possess the old factory based model for education.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Mitigating the Effects of Covid-19

My Object is Covid-19 mental health, as I believe that mental health has not had enough importance throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. I highlight this pressing issue using psychological studies that show the link between Lockdown and mental health.
Project Aim:
To use my philosophical concepts to offer solutions at mitigating the effects of Covid-19 mental health, I shall not be suggesting that the physical effects of the virus should be disregarded.

Within my project, I use two philosophical concepts – Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism and Ayn Rand’s rational egoism.
Sartre’s existentialism focuses on our own individual freedom as he claims that we do not have a general human essence to conform to. Sartre also has insights into why we experience anxiety which include factors such as abandonment and responsibility, all feelings exaggerated within a lockdown.
Ayn Rand’s rational egoism denies selfishness as an evil motive, and instead, Rand promotes placing oneself first in order to gain a clear conscience to make rationally informed decisions. Our integrity and values will ensure that making selfish decisions will not lead to immoral acts, and therefore we should be making more selfish decisions.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Song is Existence

The first part of my project was to prove that accepting a scientific and medical approach to mental illness was wrong. I used Jean-Paul Sartre’s account of bad faith, in which the human being freely gives up their freedom. I then applied this behaviour to the person who accepts the scientific explanation for the dark thoughts and emotions we experience when suffering from illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

In the second part, I introduced Heidegger’s lecture on the origin of the work of art, and how poetry uncovers truths about the world through its use of
language. Music is also a form of poetry so in contemporary times I believe that accepting the truths presented to us about mental illness by musicians is acting in good faith. I supported this argument with the examples of Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Kendrick Lamar. Additionally I analysed a select few examples of medical accounts of mental illness in order to prove that they were an insufficient approach to mental health.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Neoliberal Distress: The Effect of Contemporary Capitalism on the Mental State of Young People

My project aims:
Outlining neoliberal hegemony, why it has become so universally pervasive.
To uncover the manner in which neoliberalism increases levels of distress for young people through statistical evidence.
To look at the systemic shortcomings in treating mental illness and how this leads young people into self-medication and escapism.
To look at potential solutions to countering neoliberalism, highlighting precisely why the left has failed in doing so.
Concluding by revealing neoliberalism as pseudo-universal.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Melissa Walker’s Masks: The History of Soldier’s PTSD and its Societal Depiction

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is associated with impairments in everyday attention and memory
PTSD is associated with enhanced acquisition of conditioned fears
(S. Taylor, 2017, p. 45)

Panic disorder, and alcohol and substance abuse frequently emerge in conjunction with PTSD and that is not isolated to treatment-seeking populations
(Wilson Friedman & Lindy, 2004, p. 237)

Priory Survey of 1,000 men:
77% said that they suffered from anxiety, stress or depression
40% said that they would only seek help if it got as bad as thoughts of suicide
(Priory Group, Survey: 2004)

I don’t think we are doing enough for our veterans. Their care should be a government priority, and it should not be left to charities like Help For Heroes to subsidise the cost.
(Gregg, 2015)

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Does Technology Merely Distort or Substantially Change Law and Justice?

Does Technology Merely Distort or Substantially Change Law and Justice?

The Media:

Common-held belief was that – because of Simpson’s celebrity- he would not be prosecuted.
Despite the incriminating evidence against him, the public supported Simpson. As noted by Bugliosi, there were “people carrying sings outside the courtroom during the trial declaring “Free OJ” and “Save the Juice”

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Technological advancements have made it considerably more comfortable for us to watch someone “slip away”

The Death Penalty:
At this present- day, advancements in the pharmaceutical industry ensure that ‘the shelf life of benzodiazepine’ also plays a role in this process.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Student Suicide: A philosophical investigation into whether attitudes towards ‘Suicide’ have changed over time?

My project will examine whether contemporary society’s attitude towards ‘Suicide’ have changed over time?
Are we living in the past?
Are we scared to talk about mental health?

My territory is ‘Student suicide’
My object is the BBC Three documentary ‘Student Suicide: Real Stories’.
The documentary looks at how three students took their lives at University; but from the perspective of their loved ones.
Many students do not tell anyone, as they feel “ashamed”.

This project will focus on the philosophical concepts; Suicide and Morality.
Durkheim’s On Suicide investigates whether social factors affect suicide rates.
Hume’s essay ‘Of Suicide’ illustrates his views against the traditional viewpoint of suicide.
Kant’s The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals dictates his views against suicide.

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Mental Illness: Social Construct or Scientific Fact?

I am going to explore the differing perceptions, classifications and treatments of mental illness, in particular depression.

Key Themes

Personal: The sufferer’s explanation

Scientific: A biochemical explanation of the causes and symptoms, and consequent treatment using medicine

Holistic: Classification of a mental illness takes into account the patient’s experiences, cognition processes and learned behaviours, which therapy seeks to overcome

Social: The onlooker’s explanation and the stigma in society

Foucault: Modern psychiatry, although grounded in scientific truths, is primarily a system of moral judgements. Treatment of the mentally ill can be seen as society’s way of controlling what they deem to be immoral / undesirable.

Sartre: Man has the freedom to choose what their life is, however many of us live in bad faith by hiding from this freedom as it is accompanied by the responsibility to have meaning; man is condemned to be free.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

The Hubris of Medicalization

A considered look into the social transition from ‘madness’ to ‘mental illness’ and the possible connotations of our choice to embrace such medicalization within the Western World, inspired by a reading of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir Girl, Interrupted.

Concepts: Foucault Madness and Civilisation, Szasz The Myth of Mental Illness, Potter The Authenticity Hoax, Davies Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good, Kaysen Girl, Interrupted.

Aspects considered: Within this project I intend to discuss and analyse the value of medicalization, and will thus discuss how it came to power and why we choose to maintain it. Through Foucault I will challenge the concept that we have always been ‘mentally ill’ rather than mad, wise or even Dionysian.

In discussing this topic further I will touch on the technological era’s impact on medicalization, and thus the glamorisation of ‘mental illness’ within YouTube and Facebook culture. I will also aim to discuss and challenge the pharmaceutical nature of ‘therapy’ which is so widely experienced and commonly accepted.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Personhood. Persons, bodies and: exploring the relationships between historical concepts of personhood and prescriptions in medical ethics.

My objective in this essay is two part. Firstly I aim to produce a well-rounded account of the differing approaches to defining personhood, assess their shortcomings and highlight the relationship between personhood and rights. The second part of the essay will be an application of this notion of personhood and the subsequent theory of rights to the sphere of medical ethics, using abortion to demonstrate the important role the notion of personhood plays in medical ethical issues as well as highlighting its limitations.

FIRST I will establish the context of personhood by assessing first the Religious approaches to personhood. Next the Philosophical approach, using the philosophies of Aquinas, Descartes and Locke on personhood. And last the approach of science. All will be viewed in the context of history and how definitions change across history and across culture.

Secondly I will emphasise the undeniable link between concepts of Personhood and the effects it has on human rights. And use Peter Singer to demonstrate issues with a hierarchy of rights.

Lastly I will apply notions of personhood, and the subsequent theory of rights, to the abortion debate in order to demonstrate the impact of personhood in medical ethics. I will then use the works of Judith Thompson and discussions on social influences to highlight the extent of the role that personhood actually plays in medical ethical issues.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

The Phenomenology of Mental Disorder: the Subjective Experience of Scizophrenia

Phenomenology urges closer scrutiny of our experiences. A phenomenological approach to mental disorder concerns an acute study the patient’s experience; its conditions and its structure. My objective is to gain insight into the refined and perplexed experiences of the Schizophrenic mind. Philosophy has traditionally been concerned with issues of subjectivity and the first-person. In order to facilitate a dialogue between philosophy and psychopathology I will be referencing specialists in the field such as Dan Zahavi, Karl Jaspers and Christopher Frith.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Mental Illness as a Social Construct

Key Concepts
Stigma of mental illness in society – The effects this has on the modern day sufferers & the effect of the overall illness within society itself.
Mental Illness as a social construct – How it is seen to be created by social influences and what this means for the illness.
Public Conceptions of Mental Illness from historical and modern media influences.
Is there even such a thing as mental illness?
What is an illness of the mind?