A severe disorder of the self-experience is conceived as the common experiential denominator of the heterogeneous group of schizophrenic psychoses. The ego-pathology focuses on this ego-disorder in its five basic dimensions (vitality, activity, consistency/coherence, demarcation, and identity).
A population of 664 probands (552 schizophrenics, 25 borderline personality disorder, 87 depressive disorder, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R) American Psychiatric Association, 1987) was systematically studied using the Ego Pathology Inventory (53 items). The most important evaluation was the confirmatory factor analysis.
The self-experience of schizophrenics concerns the uncertainties, deficits or even annihilation of the five basic dimensions. Confirmatory factor analysis allows comparison between theoretical and empirical item allocation and shows a high congruence (kappa 0.95). Analysis of variance between the three diagnostic groups on the level of items as well as scales shows differences in the respective proband groups. External measurements serve as arguments for the validity of the model.
The concept of five basic dimensions of self-experience can be shown as a reliable, valid and viable approach to study empirically the disordered ego/self of schizophrenics and other diagnostic groups. Concerning therapeutic consequences, some hints for a need-adapted treatment are given with the aim of reconstructing the disordered self-experience, even in body awareness.
A detailed presentation of the psychopathology research reported in this article is published in Scharfetter (1996). The first article was published in English in 1981.