First MHB graduate to complete doctorate

Congratulations from Prof. Völler as Chair of the Doctoral Committee (left) and Prof. Heinze as mentor (centre)

Neuruppin/Rüdersdorf, 16 December 2021

Samuel Thoma is the first to complete a doctorate at the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane (MHB). The assistant physician at the Department of Psychiatry/Immanuel Klinik Rüdersdorf and MHB research assistant wrote his doctoral thesis on Henri Maldiney’s philosophy of psychoses.

“I was pleased with the option of doctoral studies at the MHB and feel honored to be the first at the MHB to be awarded the academic degree of a doctor of medicine (M.D.)” so Dr. Thoma who also holds a doctor’s degree in philosophy.

MHB president Prof. Hans-Uwe Simon congratulated Dr. Thoma and went on to say that the first completed doctorate is a milestone in the MHB history and of immense importance to this young university: “This step is giving a decisive boost to our research activities and makes us more attractive.”

Dr. Thoma understands his thesis on Henri Maldiney’s philosophy of psychoses as a contribution to the theoretical foundations of psychiatry: “French philosopher Henri Maldiney (1912-2013) is not well known in Germany. The focus of my thesis is on his importance to psychiatry today. Henri Maldiney is unusual in having developed an independent theory of psychoses and pertinent therapeutic approaches without having any specialist training in psychiatry himself. He was in close exchange with numerous psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, artists and affected individuals. Maldiney was concerned with the philosophical aspects of psychosis, to be interpreted, for example, as a radical questioning of one’s existence or a perceived threat from exposed sensibilities. In terms of clinical practice, Maldiney was in charge of art therapy at the psychiatric facility ‘Le Vinatier’ in Lyon in the 1970es and made sure that philosophy students were included in therapies offered at that clinic. In my doctoral studies I explored Maldiney’s approaches for their potential impact on psychiatric care and psychosis theory today but also for the questionable aspects of his concepts from our present point of view.”

Thoma says he was motivated by a longstanding interest in France and in French liberal arts, but most by Maldiney’s interdisciplinary approach in which he combines philosophy with linguistics, fine arts, psychoanalysis and psychopathology. This kind of approach, so Thoma, is absolutely necessary in today’s psychiatry as the only way to understand the mental suffering of individuals in their bio-psychosocial dimensions and offer meaningful therapies.” Having completed his doctorate, Thoma plans to investigate the attitude of professionals towards people with a record of psychosis, and to explore health-promoting settings inside and outside psychiatric facilities. A lecturer’s qualification on the same topic remains an option for the future. “But for now I am looking forward to spending more time with my little son!”

Doctoral regulations issued by the Faculty of Health Sciences (FGW) entered into force on 26 November 2020. Since then, students, young researchers and physicians at the MHB have the option of a doctorate and gaining a doctoral degree (doctor of medicine and doctor of medical sciences). About 50 further candidates started their doctoral projects and are expected to complete them in the coming months.