Habit and Mental Illness from an Hegelian Perspective

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Hegel proposes cultivation of habit as one of the major cures for mental illness. According to him, habit not only involves embodiment and dexterity but also mental activities and ethical elements. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the types of habit Hegel prescribes for curing mental illness in his original works. A three-level framework comprising the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and spiritual levels is adopted, and results show that although Hegel points out that habit is ethical and spiritual in nature, in his discussions on mental illness Hegel makes the majority of references on habits that involves the body such as physical movement and laboring. Habits that belong to the interpersonal and spiritual aspects are relatively neglected. This paper proposes that habits in the interpersonal and family realms, habits that function in the transition from the subjective to objective spirit, and habits in the morality sphere, which are equally important in Hegel’s philosophy, should be taken into consideration in future research and interventions for mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Arenas
Issue number245–261
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2020


  • Hegel · Habit · Madness · Second nature · Ethical life · Mutual recognition


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