Call for Papers

Pathographies, Life Stories and Biographies. One hundred years after Strindberg und Van Gogh

2nd April, 2023

(responses: 30th May 2023
final acceptance: 15th July, 2023)

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The journal ‘Studi Jaspersiani’ dedicates its next volume (2023) to Pathographies, Life Stories and Biographies. One hundred years after Strindberg und Van Gogh

Edited by Anna Donise

Although the first to introduce the term ‘pathography’ was probably the neuropsychiatrist Paul Julius Möbius (1853-1907), a few years later first Freud – particularly in his 1910 paper on Leonardo Da Vinci – and then Jaspers, with his General Psychopathology of 1913, picked it up and contributed to outlining its conceptual breadth.

Issue XI of the Rivista di Studi Jaspersiani wishes to invite scholars from different disciplines to reflect on the extraordinary heuristic potential of the category of ‘pathography’ by celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first Jaspersian work fully dedicated to this particular form of biographical narrative: Strindberg und Van Gogh: Versuch einer Pathographischen Analyse unter vergleichender Heranziehung von Swedenborg und Hölderlin (1922), in which Jaspers compares four pathographies of brilliant men.

In his early works, Jaspers devoted ample space to the so-called ‘life stories’, in which he reconstructed the biography of some of the inmates of the Heidelberg clinic, placing particular emphasis on pathological events, from the suspicious watchmaker in Ein Beitrag zur Frage, Entwicklung einer Persönlichkeit oder Prozess? (1910) to the dangerous baby-sitters in Heimweh und Verbrechen (1908). In later years, however, his biographical analysis shifted from the common patient to some individuals endowed with exceptional gifts whose works have value for the entire community.

The invitation to reflect on the category of ‘pathography’ can be understood from several points of view: Jaspers elaborates on the relevance of the first-person narrative and, in line – at least on this point – with Freud, considers it indispensable to take into account how the patient experiences and describes their condition. Even in the pathography of a ‘great man’, it is the subject in question who describes his state of mind and his moments of crisis, and he does so through (narrative or poetic) words or even through pictorial expression – this is the case with van Gogh, including stroke, perspective, shapes or colour. In the early 1970s this idea was placed at the centre of humanistic psychology and since the 1980s it has become one of the central aspects of narrative medicine. Yet in neither tradition does Jaspers play an important role, despite the fact that he was among the first to realise the importance of analysing and describing the lives of patients in order to find another route to understanding and treating mental illness.

From an epistemological point of view, on the other hand, pathography – like biography or life history – constitutes a valuable tool for moving from the infinite multiplicity of subjective experience, described phenomenologically, to the conceptual construction necessary to understand others and make a diagnosis. The question is, however, where this category stands when compared with the ‘eidetic reduction’ proposed by Husserl on the one hand, and the Weberian ‘ideal type’ on the other.

Finally, pathography also shows its heuristic power on another level. The connection between genius and psychic pathology has always fascinated humankind, and historically subjects with psychosis are often represented quite differently from the mentally healthy. It is almost as if mental illness were the symbol of a ‘profound human mystery’. When pathology comes with genius, is it able to express otherwise unattainable aspects of the human condition?

In virtue of such an extended research frame, we invite to reflect, among others, on the following issues:

  • What is the meaning of the Pathography and how should it be understood?
  • The concept of ‘pathography’ and its history
  • Autobiography, life stories and pathography
  • Phenomenological description and pathographic investigation
  • The role of pathographic narrative in understanding human nature
  • Pathography and greatness
  • Jaspers’ pathographies (in particular Strindberg, Van Gogh, Swedenborg, Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Leonardo, Ezekiel)
  • Contemporary use of the concept of pathography
  • Pathography in comparison with humanistic medicine and narrative medicine


Deadline 2 April 2023
Responses by 30 May 2023
Final acceptance by 15 July 2023

General Rules and Policy
Every year, the Karl Jaspers society calls for a theme which will be the object of the subsequent “Studi jaspersiani” Journal.

Authors interested in presenting their contribution to this theme can submit it following the instructions (in order to send the contribution you need a registration after that you can log in).

The paper must not contain the Author’s name in the subject, or any reference to the Author.

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The paper must contain an abstract in English reviewed by a English native speaker, not exceeding 250 words. The paper will be a file (pdf or doc) to be attached during submission. It must not exceed 45.000 characters (spaces and footnotes included) and can be written in Italian, English, French or German.

Any elements of the file that might identify the Author must be removed in order to guarantee anonymity during the referee process.

The contributions will be forwarded to one or more independent reviewers, according to the blind refereeing process. Reviewers may anonymously ask the author to modify or improve their contribution for its publication.

For the initial selection procedure, no guidelines are set for formatting; in those instances where the contribution has been accepted, a final version will be asked of the author. Guidelines can be found here.

The Journal does not accept proposals outside of the call for papers announced for each number. Further collaborations (reviews) must be previously agreed upon with the editorial staff, attaching a brief profile of the author and his or her research areas.

Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, rejection 
The editorial staff will give notification of the refereeing outcome via email. Contributions which do not comply with the Journal’s ethical code will be rejected. The editorial staff may, under the recommendation of the reviewer(s), accept an article, provided that possible modifications and integrations be implemented. Contributions will be evaluated by three reviewers and accepted only in case of an unanimous positive refereeing.

Final version deadline 
Once the manuscript is accepted, a definitive version containing the final formatting and possible integrations must be sent within 3 months afer the Call for papers deadline.