Researching Affects in the Clinic and Beyond. Multi-Perspectivity, Ethnography, and Mental Health-Care Intervention
Heyken, Edda; Poser, Anita von; Hahn, Eric; Nguyen, Thi Main Huong; Lanca, Jörg-Christian; Ta, Thi Minh Tam – 2019
In recent years, medical and psychological anthropologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists have worked towards establishing cultural phenomenological and context-specific forms of medicine. These forms entail person-centered approaches to acknowledge the importance of patients’ biographies and their situatedness in life in relation to various social, cultural, political, and economic circumstances. Taking this claim seriously, our team, which consists of two psychiatrists, one psychologist, and three anthropologists, has been breaking new methodological ground while researching affects as part of Affective Societies in and beyond the clinic. Over two years, we accompanied elderly Vietnamese patients in Berlin within an innovative affect- and emotion-focused group therapy, developed by the team’s psychiatrists and psychologist. Simultaneously, the anthropologists met the patients in different social, spatial, and structural environments outside the clinic. We aim to explain how joining our multiple methodological approaches and perspectives allowed us to build a more comprehensive frame for understanding the affective complexities in the lives, crises, and conducts of our interlocutors. In relaying the cases of four patients, we portray how we learned from each other in methodological, conceptual, and cross-disciplinary ways. We discuss the advantages and the potential hazards involved in the course of systematically entangling multi-perspectivity, ethnography, and mental health-care intervention.