The use of personal experiences in mental health debates


The Power of Stories: Responsibility for Use of Autobiographical Stories in Mental Health Debates

Personal experiences of mental health give insights into that individual’s experience and are also often used as testimony or arguments in public debates about mental health.

These personal experiences are so vivid to that individual that they are likely to heavily influence their views. This article explores whether there are moral and epistemic issues associated with using such personal accounts in mental health debates.

Due to the sensitivities of this, we argue that debate participants have a responsibility to assess their experience as if it were evidence if it is to be put forward to support a viewpoint. The article also suggests ways to ensure the use of personal experiences contributes to the variety of resources available to debate participants, importantly, without compromising the quality of the arguments or increasing stigma.

This article was produced as part of Project PERFECT – research that aims to find out how unusual beliefs offer philosophers of mind the opportunity to challenge mental health stigma. More information about the project is available online -

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