Kazem Sadegh-Zadeh     Philosophy of Medicine     HAPM



Kazem Sadegh-Zadeh

Goodbye to practice

I started working on "my" philosophical-medical problems as of 1970 during my clinical work specializing in psychiatry and psychosomatics at the University Hospital Göttingen in Germany. Inspired by Karl Eduard Rothschuh's fascinating book Theory of Organism [1] that had aroused my interest in the philosophy of medicine in 1964 when I studied medicine and philosophy at the University of Münster, the first problem I tackled was the nature of consciousness and self-consciousness and the question of how these two mental phenomena relate to the organism. I developed the core of a palimpsest theory of mind according to which the self-consciousness is a stream of continuously updated self-diagnoses of the organism, expressed by first-person sentences of the form:

and the like some or all of which may, like a doctor's diagnoses, be of course misdiagnoses. The pronoun "I" in such sentences is gratuitous and can be replaced by the self-referential phrase "the organism that is speaking now" such that the self-diagnoses above are, respectively, equivalent to:

Thus, there is no hidden entity in the organism called Self or Ego which the pronoun "I" would indicate. An amended version of this theory of the psyche may be found in The Handbook ([2], pp. 131-142). In the light of the theory I lost my trust in psychiatry, psychosomatics, and all available theories of mental disorders and diseases and of their psychogenesis and therapy. So, I discontinued my specialization by the end of 1971.


[1] Rothschuh KE. Theory of Organism. Munich: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1963, 2nd edition. (In German.)

[2] Sadegh-Zadeh K. Handbook of Analytic Philosophy of Medicine. Dordrecht: Springer, 2015.