Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor Alexandra Pârvan, University of Pitesti, Romania

Alexandra ParvanA Clinician's Metaphysical Toolkit for use in person-centred care provision

11 September - 9 December 2019


Dr Alexandra Pârvan is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Communication Sciences at the University of Pitești, Romania. She has degrees in Psychology (BSc) and Philosophy (MA, PhD) from the University of Bucharest and the Romanian Academy, and a licence for practice in psychological counselling from the Romanian College of Psychologists. She earned fellowships in St Andrews, Edinburgh, Tübingen, and Princeton. She published in philosophy of culture (the book Dublul si diferenta – The Double and the Difference, 2004); Augustinian studies (especially on his theory of evil, his theory of knowledge, and biblical exegesis) and is a contributor to the two contemporary monumental pieces of scholarship on Augustine (Augustinus Lexikon, 1986- , and The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, 2013); also, with a focus on the metaphysics of evil/harm, violence, and disease that can inform new approaches to treatment, she writes in the hybrid fields of philosophy and psychotherapy (in Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology; International Journal of Applied Philosophy), philosophy of medicine and person-centred healthcare (Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

Project Summary

The project contributes to an emergent multidisciplinary research domain called “person-centred healthcare”. Efforts are currently underway to build the philosophical foundations of the person-centred model of care, where treatment is tailored to the person, and not directed to an impersonal disease category that receives standardised treatment. Unlike, ethics, epistemology, or phenomenology, metaphysics so far has only been considered as a theoretical resource, removed from practical concerns, especially regarding treatment. I will show that metaphysics is good for practice and metaphysical care is a necessity.

Unrecognised metaphysical assumptions permeate the interactions between clinicians and patients and build their conceptualisations of “what is” disease, health, the person or patient’s self, mind or body. These questions of a metaphysical nature require a specialised clinician’s toolkit, to prevent complications in treatment. For instance, patients may fully or partially refuse treatment if they conceive of themselves and disease as two separate entities, existing on their own. The project builds a metaphysical toolkit for clinical care which includes thinking tools and simple-language practice tools for intervention. This research is important because it addresses an area of neglected health needs, seeks to improve patient experiences and clinicians’ skills, and contributes to a domain which affects everyone’s life: healthcare provision.

Dr Pârvan is hosted by Professor Havi Carel (Philosophy)


24 October, 6.50 - 8.50 pm
G50, 13 Woodland Road
Student philosophy seminar: There is no corpse in metaphysics 

6 November, 2 - 3.30 pm
G.16, Cotham House, Cotham Hill, Bristol, BS6 6JL
Lecture: Disease, health, and the person. How ontology works as a (mis)treatment tool in clinical contexts

21 November, 6.50 - 8.50 pm
Student poetry seminar: “No breath of air I take can ease my straining breast”

26 November, 12 - 1 pm
Room 1.7, 3-5 Woodland Road
Student poetry session: 'Scheherazade' - the stories our bodies tell

6 December, 5.15 pm
Lecture Theatre 1, 43 Woodland Road, Bristol, 
Public Lecture: Re-inventing the way we see: how art can help with creating health and eliminating stigma in chronic conditions