Kriszta Sajber, Ph.D

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Dr. Kriszta Sajber received her B.A. from Reed College in political philosophy and her Ph.D. from Stony Brook University (SUNY) with a specialization in 20th-century continental philosophy and the philosophy of psychiatry. Currently she is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan - Dearborn where she regularly teaches a course on medical ethics and occasionally offers a class on the philosophy of mental illness. Her teaching experience also includes courses on moral reasoning, ethical theory, the history of ethical thought, environmental ethics, and values in science and technology.

Dr. Sajber’s work in progress focuses on autonomy studies and is carried out through a wide range of applications. Her work on patient abandonment in the treatment of people with severe mental illnesses argues for the reexamination of the normative dimensions of the principle of respect for autonomy and demonstrates that, in view of the historical shift that replaced institutional forms of care with care offered in the community, a corresponding shift of focus is necessary from autonomy to a nuanced yet practical conceptualization of what it means to respect psychiatric patients. In her work on fostering patient agency in cross-cultural physician-patient encounters, she identifies culturally competent practices which, by prioritizing patient values related to agency as opposed to self-determination, are more effective for building trust and fostering patient autonomy. Her analysis of the philosophical justification of vaccine mandates compares the no-harms approach to a collective action framework, arguing that the latter can successfully address claims based in personal freedoms through reframing the problem of vaccine uptake as a scarce resource allocation problem.

Dr. Sajber’s theoretical research focuses on understanding the lived experience of psychotic disorders and aims at formulating a psychiatric ethics sensitive to the needs of those whose lives have been impacted by severe mental illness. At the center of these investigations are the disorders of consciousness and the capacity for intersubjective engagement characteristic of a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, most especially schizophrenia, autism, depression, anxiety and personality disorder diagnoses. Within the philosophy of medicine, she is especially interested in contested disease categories, the direct and indirect role of values in medical knowledge production, and the way patient experiences of healthcare are shaped by philosophical frameworks (e.g. the influence of mind-body dualism in creating the dichotomy between mental and physical illnesses, or in isolating the anatomical body as an entity in theory distinct and separate from the patient undergoing treatment).