Illness, Body and Relationship: Giovanni Jervis and the Field of Clinical Psychology


  • Riccardo Williams Sapienza - University of Rome, I


Jervis , Clinical Psychology, Body , Identity


 Unlike most of his contemporaries, Jervis felt it was necessary to give new answers to last century’s clinical psychology crisis. He managed to show the relevance that psychological knowledge coming from other sectors ( such as philosophy, evolutionary biology, cybernetics, ethology and, nowadays, neuroscience) could have for clinical psychology. He realized that the clinical world was at risk of loosing its cultural models of reference and threatened to break up with the scientific tradition with which it had not been able to establish a profitable dialogue. Jervis’ views on mental functioning allowed him to delimit the field of action of clinical psychology. The focus on pathology and existential distress suggested that correct clinical evaluation and diagnosis are at the core of the activity of clinical psychologists. The tension between relational expectations, self-deceptive aspects of identity and the bodily sources of mental life show the dynamic field on which clinical psychology can deploy its transformative action.