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, 36 (2), 331-40

Schizophrenia and Alterations in Self-Experience: A Comparison of 6 Perspectives


Schizophrenia and Alterations in Self-Experience: A Comparison of 6 Perspectives

Paul H Lysaker et al. Schizophr Bull.


Contemporary researchers have tended to examine dysfunction among the lives of persons with schizophrenia as a matter of the impact of biological and social forces. While this has greatly advanced the knowledge base, any account of schizophrenia without a full consideration of the illness's first-person dimensions risks missing that schizophrenia is a disorder that interrupts the lives of people who must continue to struggle to find and create security and meaning. While literature from a range of sources has explored self-experience in schizophrenia, one barrier to the creation of a larger synthesis and application of this work is that it remains unclear whether, and to what degree, these differing views of self-experience are comparable with one another. To address this issue, this article reviews 6 different accounts of self-experience, a fundamental, first-person dimension of schizophrenia. The 6 are early psychiatry, existential psychiatry, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, psychosocial rehabilitation, and dialogical psychology. After comparing and contrasting the 6, we conclude that there is a wide-ranging, if general consensus, which suggests that many suffering from schizophrenia experience themselves as diminished relative to their former selves, ie, after onset they experience themselves as less able to engage the world effectively, which intensifies their anxieties in the face of everyday interactions. However, within this broad consensus, significant disagreements exist around issues such as whether these difficulties meaningfully predate the illness, how recovery is possible, and if so, under what conditions. In closing, we suggest a program of research to address these disagreements.

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