Mattias Desmet

     Mattias Desmet


What is your main driver for doing research?

I am passionate about subjectivity and psychic functioning in general and about psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic practice in particular. With my research, I intend to make more tangible how the psychological level impacts on the other levels of human reality (e.g. the biological-physical level). I am particularly fascinated by how speech (for instance during psychotherapeutic sessions) restructures subjective experiencing and how at the same time, the bodily functioning of the patients changes as well (as appears from patients’ speech as well as from biological data).

Why do you believe that strengthening mental health is so important?

I believe that subjective experience is the most central aspect of the human being. It becomes increasingly clear that mental life impacts on all different aspects of our existence (in particular the social and the physical dimensions). Throughout the 20th century, clinical observations and research findings illustrated this in a stunning way. Think, for instance, about the impact of placebo’s on symptoms and complaints. Furthermore, even if we are perfectly healthy and wealthy, it means nothing to us if we are troubled at the mental level. 

How could research change the world?

Research can be inspiring and evocative; it can yield new ideas and new perspectives for practice. I don’t believe it can lead to strict rules and dogma’s for practicing psychotherapists, but it can offer a framework which makes them look differently at practice and which makes them aware in a different way of the position they take in their clinical work.

With whom outside academia did you already collaborate and achieved important results?

We constructed the single case archive, a tool which helps clinicians to select single case studies that are relevant for the patients they work with.



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