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The paradoxical self: awareness, solipsism and first-rank symptoms in schizophrenia

Humpston, Clara 2017. The paradoxical self: awareness, solipsism and first-rank symptoms in schizophrenia. Philosophical Psychology 31 (2) , pp. 210-231.

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Abstract

Schizophrenia as a pathology of self-awareness has attracted much attention from philosophical theorists and empirical scientists alike. I view schizophrenia as a basic self-disturbance leading to a lifeworld of solipsism adopted by the sufferer and explain how this adoption takes place, which then manifests in ways such as first-rank psychotic symptoms. I then discuss the relationships between these symptoms, not as isolated mental events, but as end-products of a loss of agency and ownership, and argue that symptoms like thought insertion and other ego-boundary disorders are by nature a multitude of paradoxes created by a fragmented awareness. I argue that such fragmentation does not always require or lead to a delusional elaboration as the definitive feature of its phenomenology, and present reasons for the role of the first-person pronoun as a mere metaphor used to represent the patient’s bizarre experiences where sensory perception and thinking processes converge. Further, I discuss the initial benefits of adopting a solipsistic stance and how despite being a maladaptive strategy, it nevertheless acts as a protective barrier for the integrity of one’s self. Lastly, I offer some suggestions for clinical practice, emphasizing the importance of understanding the patient’s suffering in any therapeutic alliance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 0951-5089
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 October 2017
Date of Acceptance: 2 October 2017
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2018 14:46
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/105932

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