Time, human being and mental health care: an introduction to Gilles Deleuze

Marc Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, is emerging as one of the most important and influential philosophers of the 20th century, having published widely on philosophy, literature, language, psychoanalysis, art, politics, and cinema. However, because of the ‘experimental’ nature of certain works, combined with the manner in which he draws upon a variety of sources from various disciplines, his work can seem difficult, obscure, and even ‘willfully obstructive’. In an attempt to resist such impressions, this paper will seek to provide an accessible introduction to Deleuze's work, and to begin to discuss how it can be employed to provide a significant critique and reconceptualization of the theoretical foundations and therapeutic practices of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and mental health nursing. In order to do this, the paper will focus upon Deleuze's masterwork, and the cornerstone to his philosophy as a whole, Difference and Repetition; in particular, it will discuss how his innovative and challenging account of time can be employed to provide a conception of human life as a ‘continuity’, rather than as a series of distinct ‘moments’ or ‘events’. As well as discussing the manner in which his work can provide us with an understanding of how life is different and significant for each human being, this paper will also highlight the potential importance of Deleuze's work for logotherapy, for the recent ‘turn’ to ‘narrative’ as a psychotherapeutic approach and for contemporary mental health care's growing interest in ‘social constructionism’. As such, this paper also seeks to stimulate further discussion and research into the importance and the relevance of Deleuze's work for the theory and practice of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and mental health nursing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalNursing Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Difference
  • Logotherapy
  • Modernity
  • Narrative
  • Social constructionism
  • Time


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