About Philosophy SIG

Find out more about the RCPsych Philosophy Special Interest Group below.
MemberYear of joiningPosition
Dr Anastasios Dimopoulos 
2021 (C)Chair
Professor Drozdstoj Stoyanov2012 (C)Vice-Chair
Dr Hasanen Al-Taiar2020 (C)Finance Officer
Dr Abdi Sanati
2010 (C)
Committee Member
Dr Gwynnyth Adshead2012 (C)Committee Member
Dr Hasanen Al-Taiar Committee Member
Dr Anna Bergqvist Committee Member
Professor Deborah Bowman2013 (C)Committee Member
Dr John Callender2010 (C)Committee Member
Dr Anastasios Dimopoulos Committee Member
Professor Anthony Vincent Fernandez2021Committee Member
Professor Kenneth Fulford2011 (C)Committee Member
Dr Allerdiena Hubbeling2011 (C)Website Content Editor
Professor Julian Hughes2011 (C)Committee Member
Dr Clara Humpston2021Committee Member
Dr Afzal Javed2012 (C)Committee Member
Dr Elselijn Kingma2012 (C)Committee Member
Dr Michalis Kyratsous Committee Member
Dr Marek Marzanski2012 (C)Committee Member
Dr Edward Mitchell2012 (C)Committee Member
Professor Marcin Moskalewicz2021Committee Member
Dr Gareth Owen2012 (C)Committee Member
Dr Hanna Pickard2011 (C)Committee Member
Dr Stephen Ramplin2010 (C)Newsletter Editor
Dr Rosa Ritunnano2021Committee Member
Ms Elizabeth Shaw2014 (C)Committee Member
Dr Tim Thornton2012 (C)Committee Member
Professor Francesca Brencio 2021 (C)Committee Member
Dr Awais Aftab2021Committee Member

I am Anastasios Dimopoulos, the Chair of the Philosophy Special Interest Group.

Our SIG counts over 6,000 members, a clear sign of a wide interest for a dialogue between philosophy and psychiatry. The central aim of our group has traditionally been to encourage philosophical thought and conceptual analysis amongst psychiatrists. A main contention of those interested in the philosophy of psychiatry is that conceptual problems lie at the heart of clinical practice. This has been increasingly evident in recent years and we have been witnessing a short of renaissance in developing further this dialogue and make it relevant for everyday practice. 

To give you a few examples, we have seen an amazing proliferation of research that uses insights from phenomenological philosophy to investigate the subjective experience of patients within a certain context. These insights help practitioners in understanding their patients, allowing them to build therapeutic relationships and identify relevant treatment options.

Another example is how philosophy of psychiatry had an impact on initiatives within the Department of Health through, for instance, the notion of values-based practice. We can now point to documents from the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) and the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that make reference to values-based practice, a concept that has emerged directly from work in the philosophy of psychiatry.

Our Exec board has members with rich backgrounds from UK and abroad who all share a common interest in promoting a stronger relationship between philosophy and Psychiatry. We have Philosophers specializing in conceptual and ethical issues in mental health theory and practice. We have Psychiatrists who are actively involved in various positions within the NHS aware of the pragmatic constraints of everyday practice. And we have Academics and Researchers who are familiar in working in an interdisciplinary way.

We hope to offer a range of activities and opportunities that will attract wide participation. 

An exciting new area of activity that we want to pursue further is that of serving as project Partners for research proposals that want to promote a similar interdisciplinary dialogue. By adopting a similar role, it will help us in our core mission to develop and promote further a philosophically informed psychiatric practice. Please do approach us if you have a research proposal that would benefit from our input and we will aim to identify ways to partner with you.

As a SIG we have considered the possibility to develop a series of educational resources that will aim to assist psychiatrists in their everyday practice. This is a project that will benefit immensely from the feedback of our members. We hope to create a dynamic learning environment that will enhance reflective practice and help psychiatrists to develop the capabilities needed to deal with complexity and uncertainty. 

Please explore our webpage, become a member and we will keep you updated through our Newsletter. You will find there information on how to contact us. We would be really delighted to hear from you.  

Dr Anastasios Dimopoulos, Chair of the RCPsych Philosophy SIG

You can find the old newsletters, reports, minutes etc. on INPP

Go to INPP Members > Organisational Members > United Kingdom > RCPsych.

For programmes for past INPP conferences, please email the RCPsych Archivist on archives@rcpsych.ac.uk.

Over the years the Philosophy SIG has supported meetings with the Philadelphia Association. In 2007, the two groups conjointly organised the 4th RD Laing Conference. In recent years the Philosophy SIG has also put on workshops or symposia in the Annual College Meeting.

Members of the SIG have been instrumental in building up the International Network for Philosophy and Psychiatry (INPP). The INPP website hosts a Resource Base of references, précis, and links to relevant publications in the interdisciplinary field. There are now links with similar groups in over 20 countries.

The INPP has pursued a series of international conferences every few years, the 14th International Conference for Philosophy and Psychiatry was held in September 2011 in Gothenborg Sweden:

Ethics, Experience and Evidence: Integration of Perspectives in Psychiatry

Our connections with our American counterpart, the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry, led to a new journal called Philosophy Psychology and Psychiatry (PPP). Launched in 1993, it is still published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Following the success of PPP, Oxford University Press has brought out a series entitled International Perspectives on Philosophy and Psychiatry. Professor Bill Fulford, one of the founding members of the Philosophy SIG is joint editor of the series (he was also a joint founding editor of PPP). This series now has a large number of volumes relevant to the philosophy and practice of psychiatry.

The philosophy SIG focuses on a central aim, which is to encourage philosophical thought and conceptual analysis amongst psychiatrists. To this end, we are delighted that the new curriculum for the membership examination includes a specific focus on philosophy and ethics.

The philosophy SIG continues to encourage educational activities within the College both through workshops at the Annual Meeting and also through other CPD activities, which include the running of local groups.

Local groups always depend on the enthusiasm of individuals and, as such, such groups have come and gone. The Scottish section of the philosophy SIG continues to foster meetings on a regular basis. There has been a strong group formed in London centred on the Maudsley and, in recent years the HUMAN Group in Nottingham has been encouraging interdisciplinary meetings.

Other groups have existed in the past in both Sheffield and Oxford and the philosophy SIG would always be pleased to hear of local groups and to advertise their meetings.

Research is also an important part of the dialogue between philosophers and psychiatrists.The Philosophy SIG has links with teaching and research programmes at Oxford and London.

Masters and doctoral programmes have been available from a number of universities in recent years in relation to philosophy and psychiatry. The Institute of Philosophy, Diversity and Mental Health at the University of Central Lancashire runs a distance learning masters programme based on the Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry. Also available by local teaching and/or distance learning is:

MPhil in Philosophy & Ethics of Mental Health at University of Pretoria, South Africa.

One of the functions of the Philosophy SIG is to examine the ways in which philosophy can be brought to bear on practice and also seen to emerge from the context of practice.

A main contention of those interested in the philosophy of psychiatry is that conceptual problems lie at the heart of clinical practice. It is for this reason that we are excited that the work of the Philosophy SIG continues to burgeon and broaden.

In the last few years we have seen philosophy of psychiatry having an impact on initiatives within the Department of Health through, for instance, the notion of  values based practice. For instance, we can now point to documents from the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) and the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that make reference to values based practice, a concept that has emerged directly from work in the philosophy of psychiatry.

The development of the Philosophy SIG over the last 25 years has been exciting and stimulating for all those involved and there is no reason to believe that this excitement and stimulation is set to do anything other than to continue in the future.

The following podcast gives a good introduction into philosophy of psychiatry.

Upcoming events

EPSIG and PhilSIG event | The nature and importance of brain asymmetry; an afternoon with Iain McGilchrist

Friday 5 April 2024 - at the RCPsych in London.

SOLD OUT: Details and tickets here.

Drop-in sessions

As the Philosophy SIG we aim to increase engagement by offering the opportunity to meet and identify ways to support you in developing your interests. We run a series of drop-in sessions for this purpose. For expressing your interest, please contact sigs@rcpsych.ac.uk.

Among the potential outcomes of joining a drop-in session is the formation of reading groups with colleagues who share similar interests. It is also likely that as part of the drop-in sessions, we will offer a brief introduction on specific topics. 

Reading and online discussion group

The SIG have launched a reading and discussion group.

To find out more and express your interest in joining, please contact sigs@rcpsych.ac.uk.

Membership is open to all Members of or Associates of the College. Others may apply and be invited to join at the discretion of the Chair.

To join, please login and update your membership profile or email the College.

Contact us

If you have any enquiries about the Philosophy SIG please contact sigs@rcpsych.ac.uk.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry