This chapter defines disorientations as temporally extended, major life experiences that make it difficult for individuals to know how to go on, often involving feeling out of place, unfamiliar, or not at home. It canvasses how disorientations have been of interest in sub-disciplines of philosophy (especially epistemology, philosophy of emotion, existentialism, phenomenology, and personal identity theory) as well as present in philosophers’ own first-person accounts (including John Stuart Mill, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Susan Brison), and relevant for researchers in clinical psychology. The chapter then defends disorientations as a family resemblance concept, highlighting how different instances of disorientation are related by overlapping similarities. It concludes by outlining the book’s feminist methodological approach to claims about: (1) what disorientations are; (2) the effects some disorientations have; (3) the moral and political status of those effects; and (4) disorientations’ position in contexts of oppression.
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