In this article, I introduce an approach to the case-study method which is based on the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). Heidegger’s insights have been applied by philosophers and scholars to the social and health sciences, and this application has increased noticeably over the last decade. This article has been written so that non philosophers may benefit from Heidegger’s insights and apply them to their own research and practice. I begin with a description and overview of the shift in perspective that Heidegger has advocated, and how this shift has turned upside down the fields to which it has been applied using formal methods (e.g., object-oriented ontology; Harman, 2018). These fields, however, have primarily been nonhuman, and reveal the hidden depths of ordinary objects. When considering humans, the researcher must search the hidden depths of existence, which includes five interrelated components: embodiment, space, time, relatedness, and mood. Clear and illustrative examples are provided to demonstrate each of these existentials, with one key example drawn on throughout the article.


Martin Heidegger, existential phenomenology, phenomenological hermeneutics, qualitative methods, case study methods

Author Bio(s)

Patrick is associate professor of psychology and coordinator of general education at Albany State University. He has written five books including Existential Health Psychology: The Blind-spot in Healthcare (2019: Palgrave), and his work has been published in Journal of Phenomenological Psychology and Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, among others. Please direct correspondence to patrick.whitehead@Asurams.edu.


Special thanks to Miles Groth for feedback on earlier versions of the article, and for the helpful suggestions and recommendations by journal reviewers and editors.

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