Phenomenological Psychology

Phenomenological Psychology header image

Anorexia and Britney Spears – Illustrations of a Phenomenological Psychology Approach III

July 12th, 2009 by David Kronemyer · 1 Comment


There is no shortage of pop culture illustrations about phenomenological psychology. Consider for example a woman with anorexia, in the general category of those now prominently featured on the television show “Intervention” (2008). Currently in its fifth season, ‘Intervention’ … tricks dope fiends, alcoholics and a host of more inventive abusers into believing they are being filmed for a documentary on addiction when actually their families are preparing to confront them in a hotel suite and tough-love them to wellness. … ‘Intervention’ has become A&E’s highest-rated show. Recently it was nominated for its first Emmy, for outstanding reality series, and there is no question that it stands out. Nothing on television matches its freaky calculus of exploitation and good will. Cameras follow the addicts as they shoot up, freebase, panhandle and score.” Bellafante, G. (2008, August 18), “They Drink, They Drug, and You Are There,” New York Times.

Freudian psychology might diagnose she was acting out some complex inner drive, for example, to punish her mother.  Phenomenological psychology would conclude, more intuitively, that she had devised a flawed strategy to cope with the world.  She had the right instinct, which was to bring herself into alignment with the various factors that affected her or constrained her.  She just adopted the wrong means of expressing them.

Britney Spears

There also recently have been many hot-off-the-press items involving the media icon Britney Spears, who recently was involuntarily committed for observation under a provision of California’s mental health law, California Welfare & Institutions C. §5150. See “Britney Spears Placed Under 14-Day Hold At Hospital: reports singer’s stay has been extended (2008, August 15), from MTV’s web-site; and Pat Morrison’s column, “Britney’s Law? Not so crazy – The pop singer’s recent episode could prompt a much-needed critique of California’s mental healthcare policies” (2008, January 10), Los Angeles Times.

Although she may be pharmacologically imbalanced, her main problem is that she hasn’t developed a style or a technique for dealing with the circumstances in which she finds herself.  She too has the right idea, which is that some kind of a relationship to fame, celebrity and the like is necessary and important.  She hasn’t been able to devise a strategy for them, nor does she understand the reciprocal interaction between her and the very phenomena she purports to shun.