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  • Cited by 13
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: December 2009

12 - Self-disturbance in schizophrenia: hyperreflexivity and diminished self-affection

from Part III - Disturbances of the self: the case of schizophrenia

Summary

Abstract

The present chapter offers a unifying but nonreductive interpretation of schizophrenia, one that attempts to show how the diverse signs and symptoms of this illness may all be rooted in certain fundamental alterations in the acts of consciousness that constitute both self and world. Schizophrenia, I argue, can best be understood as a two-faceted disturbance of self-experience. Phenomena that would normally be inhabited – and in this sense experienced as part of the self – come instead to be taken as objects of focal or objectifying awareness (hyperreflexivity). Intimately connected with this development is a profound weakening of the sense of existing as a subject of awareness, as a presence for oneself and before the world (diminished self-affection). Both facets imply a key disturbance of ipseity, i.e. of the basic sense of existing as a vital and self-coinciding subject of experience or first-person perspective on the world. (Ipse is Latin for self or itself.)

To explain the nature of this self-disturbance, I borrow the philosopher Merleau-Ponty's concept of the intentional arc along with Michael Polanyi's notion of an experiential continuum stretching between the object of awareness and what has a more tacit form of existence. I also distinguish between compensatory, consequential and more basic forms of hyperreflexivity. I consider the positive, negative and disorganized syndromes or types of schizophrenic symptom; and attempt, in each case, to illuminate the role of shared disturbances of consciousness and the sense of self.

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