Narrative threads: Karl Philipp Moritz's "Erfahrungsseelenkunde" and Rita Charon's narrative medicine
Oster, Nathanael Allen
To be sure, the state of medicine today is technologically, professionally and economically different from that of eighteenth century Germany; nevertheless, a continuous, humanistic thread exists and has existed since the ars medica of antiquity. This thesis examines two closely related manifestations of this humanistic push: Karl Philipp Moritz’s late eighteenth-century “Erfahrungsseelenkunde” or experiential (empirical) psychology, and today’s narrative medicine. Until now, the historical understanding of narrative medicine has relied heavily on Freudian theories of psychology; however, I argue that Karl Philipp Moritz’s theory of empirical psychology, as a predecessor to Freudian psychology, offers even more to our understanding of narrative medicine. Naturally, the marrow of this paper will be a definition of narrative medicine and its assorted advocates as well as an in depth examination of K.P. Moritz’s philosophy – one which, like narrative medicine, pushes narrative understanding and capability to the forefront of the healing arts. In addition, it will include a brief appraisal of Moritz’s influences from the German Enlightenment, thus further underscoring the continuity of the humanistic trend leading to narrative medicine.