Subjectivity and the first-person perspective have become central and popular ideas in various disciplines, such as philosophy, psychiatry, psychology and in psychopathological research. This popularity is due to several reasons. Firstly, in scientific research, a revaluation of the first-person perspective is claimed to lead to more sophisticated diagnostic approaches and explanatory models that would be better informed by the phenomena they seek to explain. For example, common-sense views of psychosis -- e.g., hallucination as mistaken perception, delusion as false belief -- could be challenged and corrected by a more explicit focus on the subjective experience of psychosis. Secondly, in psychiatric practice it is argued that more attention to the first-person perspective would improve empathic understanding of the difficulties patients concretely experience which in turn would contribute to a better therapeutic relationship. Thirdly, from the perspective of patient groups, there has long been a similar demand for using so-called ‘experiential knowledge’, i.e. knowledge grounded in first-person experience, to empower patients and improve mental health care and self- care.
Despite this convergence by the well-willing regarding the importance and value of the first-person perspective, different sorts of critical questions can and should be raised. For example, is it really that straightforward what the first-person perspective contains, what methods should be employed to examine it, and who is authorized to do so? In this regard, phenomenological approaches are sometimes criticized for taking an unwarranted expert position that would sideline the concrete voice of patients. Furthermore, what are the nature and limits of experiential knowledge? When does the first-person perspective offer not so much a clarification of phenomena but rather a philosophical or even ideological fallacy? For example, the analytic tradition of Wittgenstein has traditionally been critical of the exclusive focus on "experience" to understand concepts such as self, action, free will - how does such criticism relate to the tradition of phenomenological psychopathology? In addition, in most philosophical strands after phenomenology proper (e.g., materialist and poststructuralist thought), a similar skepticism can be found surrounding the constant focus on the 'I', ‘ experience’ and 'consciousness' which would relegate the concrete material conditions of people to the background. What implications do these theoretical decenterings and deconstructions of subjectivity have for modern psychiatric discourse around first-person experience?