The Philosophy Of Schizophrenia Essay Research Paper

The Philosophy Of Schizophrenia Essay, Research Paper


Trinity College

In his book, The Paradoxes of Delusion, Louis Sass attempts to refute two of most

prevailing beliefs of the schizophrenic individual. He argues that by sing the

schizophrenic psychotic beliefs in visible radiation of solipsism, a doctrine of being, the

schizophrenic may look far more apprehensible. Through his comparing of the

schizophrenic and solipsist worlds, Sass explains that non merely is schizophrenia

apprehensible, but that there exists within the construction of schizophrenic psychotic belief a

apparently paradoxical province which in actuality approximates a kind of logic more

than anything else. Therefore, harmonizing to Sass, schizophrenic disorder should non be deemed a province

of unreason, but instead a ground which consequences from a double conceptualisation of the


Sass first introduces the traditional apprehension of lunacy and psychotic belief. The

most cardinal footing under which a individual is diagnosed as insane is when he displays

a hapless of false apprehension of his environment, called? hapless world proving. ?

? & # 8230 ; perturbation in or failure of? reality-testing? is considered to be the shaping standard

for naming a so called psychotic condition. ? ( p.1 ) The inability to right comprehend

world is considered to be the footing for psychotic belief, the basic feature of lunacy. But,

as Sass explains, patients with schizophrenic disorder, ? the most terrible and paradigmatic sort of

insanity, ? frequently do non expose existent hapless reality-testing.

While schizophrenic patients tend to harmonize great importance to their psychotic beliefs,

they do non manage said psychotic beliefs in the same manner that they handle what they understand

to be nonsubjective world. ? & # 8230 ; many schizophrenics who seem to be deeply preoccupied

with their psychotic beliefs & # 8230 ; handle these same beliefs with what seems a certain distance and

irony. ? ( p.20-21 ) They seem to retain two apprehensions of world, so called? dual

clerking, ? which allows them to be? in two analogues but separate universes:

consensual world and the kingdom of their hallucinations & # 8230 ; ? ( p.21 ) This construct helps to

explicate why many schizophrenic patients do non move on their psychotic beliefs in a mode which

is appropriate for the given delusional state of affairs. ? A patient who claims that the physicians

and nurses are seeking to torment and poison her may nevertheless merrily consume the

nutrient they give her. ? ( p.21 ) They believe that their psychotic beliefs are existent, but merely in the

context of a universe known merely to them. ? Schreber insists & # 8230 ; that such beliefs-he calls

them? my alleged psychotic beliefs? -refers to a separate kingdom, one that does non actuate him

to move and wherein the usual standard of worldly cogent evidence does non apply. ? ( p.31 )

While common apprehensions of hapless world proving include a patient? s belief in

things which are objectively false or non-existent, Sass argues that many schizophrenics

besides disbelieve those things which can be deemed objectively true or existent. ? & # 8230 ; frequently

schizophrenic psychotic beliefs involve non belief in the unreal but incredulity in something that

most people take to be true. Schizophrenic patients may..speak incredulously of? my

alleged kids and this alleged infirmary & # 8230 ; ? ( p.24 ) Along with these? psychotic beliefs of

incredulity, ? schizophrenic patients may comprehend other human existences as machines or

apparitions which merely seem to be existent people.

Sass besides explains how schizophrenic patients may believe that many of their

experiences are merchandises of their ain head and consciousness, as if they have created the

world which surrounds them by their ain idea. ? Schizophrenics may believe that

they have invented everything they encounter-that & # 8230 ; they themselves have merely invented

the narrative they have merely read? ( p.22 ) Schreber believed that the insects he saw were

created at the minute he looked at them, and disappeared every bit shortly as he looked off.

These illustrations, along with the schizophrenic intuition refering the world of other

human existences, are cardinal to Sass? likening of schizophrenic disorder to the philosophical impression

of solipsism.

A solipsist believes that his world is the merely true world, or as Wittgenstein puts

it, ? The universe is my idea. ? ( p.34 ) Most fundamentally, solipsism refers to the belief that

everything one perceives is a merchandise of his ain head. Like the schizophrenic, the

solipsist positions other people as apparitions of a kind. ? For the solipsist, other people, other

looking centres of consciousness, are but dream personages, figments of the solipsist? s

ain witting activity and awareness. ? ( p.34 ) Because the most basic dogmas of solipsism

are lived out in the schizophrenic psychotic beliefs, Sass believes that by sing the

symptoms of schizophrenic disorder in visible radiation of the solipsist theoretical account of world, we can derive an

apprehension of much of the schizophrenic status.

Sass explains that Wittgenstein saw a strong connexion between solipsism and

intense concentration or? staring. ? ? The phenomenon of staring is closely bound up with

the whole mystifier of solipsism. ? ( p.35 ) Wittgenstein besides noted the importance of

inaction to the solipsist experience. Sass explains that by interacting with and traveling

about the universe, a individual has no pick but to accept the physical and nonsubjective quality

of everything around him. This acknowledgment? precludes a sense of & # 8230 ; subjectivization?

( p.35 ) therefore impeding the solipsist understanding that everything he sees is, in consequence, a

merchandise of his ain head.

By interacting with the is obliged to acknowledge

the universe? s distinctness & # 8230 ; in a inactive province, the universe may

expression instead different. The more one stares at things, the

more they may look to hold a coefficient of subjectiveness ;

the more they may come to look? things seen. ? When

gazing fixedly in front, the field of consciousness as such

can come into prominence ; so, it is as if the lens of

consciousness were overcasting over and the universe beyond were

taking on the aphanous quality of a dream. At this point,

the individual can be said to see experience instead than

the universe & # 8230 ; ( pp.35-36 )

This is to state that the longer we stare at something, the more we think of a certain object

in the sense of a ocular, instead than physical object. Viewed as the construct of an object

instead than an object in and of itself, the thing takes on a extremely subjective quality. ? In

this state of affairs, any object of consciousness tends to experience that it depends on me in some particular

manner, belonging to my consciousness as a private and somehow inner possession. ? ( p.36 )

Sass points out that many of Schreber? s schizophrenic experiences were

accompanied by merely such fortunes of intense concentration and about complete

inaction. ? Apart from day-to-day forenoon and afternoon walks in the garden, I chiefly sat

motionless the whole twenty-four hours on a chair at my tabular array & # 8230 ; ? ( p.37 ) It appears that certain types of

psychotic beliefs would non happen if Schreber were traveling about. ? The experience of

? miracled-up? insects & # 8230 ; seems non to hold occurred unless Schreber was in a province of

stationariness & # 8230 ; if he sat down and waited he could really arouse this wasp miracle. ?

( p.38 )

Schreber? s experience of the? wasp-miracle? is possibly the really best illustration of

the propinquity of the schizophrenic and solipsist kingdom. He believed that his regard

provoked the self-generated coevals of the insects, an apprehension which gave

Schreber the? sense of being the witting centre before whom and for whom events

appear. ? ( p.38 ) Sass besides points out transitions of Schreber? s Memoirs which indicate his

consciousness that other heads can non be, a cardinal impression of solipsism. ? The

solipsist, who is so smitten with the undeniable actuality and centrality of his ain

experience, evidently can non hold this same consciousness of the experience of others. In

fact, the more he pays attending to his ain experience, the more improbable it seems that

other people can hold anything like this-and the more others come to look & # 8230 ; non truly

witting existences at all. ? ( p.39 )

An apprehension of solipsism helps us to see why the schizophrenic patients fail

to react to their psychotic beliefs or respond in what seems an inappropriate mode. As Sass

explains, both schizophrenics and solipsists see world as a mental world of constructs or

thoughts. Thus is would be mostly ineffectual to try to move out in any physical manner because

touchable manoeuvres could hold no affect in a universe where nil is of substance. ? & # 8230 ; in

a solipsistic existence, to move might experience either unneeded or impossible: unneeded

because external conditions are at the clemency of idea & # 8230 ; impossible because existent action,

action in a universe able to defy my attempts, can non happen in a strictly mental existence. ?

( p.42 ) In visible radiation of this? simply mental or representation? apprehension of the universe, it

seems clear that a schizophrenic individual would of course talk in metaphor, something

which Sass believes is frequently unknown or ignored. ? A failure to recognize that a patient may

be depicting such a manner of experience can & # 8230 ; lead to an overly actual reading by

the healer, and therefore the misguided feeling that the patient? s world testing has

broken down. ? ( p.44 ) Additionally, schizophrenic

patients frequently perceive their ain

physical organic structures as representational or conceptual. So when they have psychotic beliefs of their

organic structures and other people? s organic structures undergoing extremist physical alterations, they are non

bothered by it because it seems affectless and inconsequential, as if one were cutting up

paper dolls.

Sass explains that consideration of the solipsist world can exemplify a possible

ground for the schizophrenic anxiousness, described by a physician of Schreber? s as a? tense? and

? cranky? province? caused by inner uneasiness. ? ( p.37 ) With the belief that the universe is a

merchandise of one? s ain head comes, to a schizophrenic patient, an huge feeling of

duty. They lack the luxury of holding the ability to? halt playing the game, ? if

you will, and leave their beliefs behind. While the impression of single-handedly controlling

being is accompanied by a sense of amazing power, it besides proceeds a fright of

doing the death of the existence. ? One catatonic patient explained why she would

keep herself immobile for hours in an uncomfortable place & # 8230 ; it was, she said, for the

intent of? halting the universe March to catastrophe? : ? If I win in staying in a

perfect province of suspension, I will suspend the motion of the Earth and halt the March

of the universe to destruction. ? ? ( p.50 )

Wittgenstein believes, and truly so, that solipsism is wrought with

contradiction. Sass besides admits that schizophrenic patients are frequently plagued by their

ain contradictions, most notably coincident feelings of omnipotence and powerlessness,

and the desire to do others understand their experience while believing that they are

the lone people capable of experience. Many of these contradictory impressions do non work

within the context of the solipsist universe position, and therefore look at first to work against

Sass? important comparing between schizophrenic disorder and solipsism. However, Sass proposes

that the contradictory nature of the schizophrenic experience does non sabotage its

close relation to solipsism, but instead demonstrates the propinquity of schizophrenic disorder to the

inherently contradictory nature of solipsism itself.

Schizophrenics typically oscillate persistently between a feeling of being a practical

maestro of the existence and a belief that their very being is in some manner inconsequential.

? Schreber senses at times that his boundaries extend to the terminals of the existence: ? It

appeared that nerves-probably taken from my body-were strung over the whole heavenly

vault. ? But he besides feels that he is bantam, and about nonexistent being lost in the enormousness

of space. ? ( p.65 ) While the latter may look to belie Sass? nexus between the

schizophrenic delusional universe and the solipsist apprehension of world, Sass explains

that if we merely follow Wittgenstein? s statement against the solipsistic point of view, we

see that even in ego contradiction, the schizophrenic world may keep it? s near

connexion with solipsism. A solipsist begins by believing in his cardinal, commanding function

of the existence. Gazing and intense concentration give a individual the feeling that? merely me

experience of the present minute is real. ? ( p.67 ) But, as Wittgenstein explains, if a

individual follows the solipsist rules carefully, he will shortly recognize that he is does non

see himself in his being, even though his experience is all that truly is. ? If he closely

size up his experiences-which & # 8230 ; are all that exists-he must acknowledge that he does non happen

himself at that place. ?

He goes farther to state that if a solipsist did see himself in his universe, it could merely

be as an object of that universe, which is, in affect, a merchandise of ideas and thoughts. He

can non, from this experience, confirm his omnipotence. ? & # 8230 ; even if one did see oneself

within one? s experience, that self, being within the phenomenal field, could be merely as

an object, non in the function of the all powerful representing subjectiveness for which the

solipsist yearns & # 8230 ; ? ( p.68 ) Furthermore, since the solipsist believe the lone world is that

which is perceived, and since he can non comprehend himself as anything but an object of his

ain consciousness, it is necessary for the solipsist to believe there is another witting

being which perceives him as an object, therefore corroborating his object world. But this

grant besides undermines the primary dogma of his world being the lone world.

With all of this in head, it seems clear that the schizophrenic patients could

intelligibly experience both all and nil at the same clip. In Schreber? s instance, Sass

points out, his? sense of being the solipsistic centre occurred at those minutes when he

was besides sing the contradictory presence of another mind. ? ( p.73 ) The? one?

whom Schreber speaks of so often is by and large a truster in the thought that Schreber

creates the universe around him. This besides gives penetration into the typical schizophrenic? loss

of ego, ? that is, the felling that one? s ideas are belong to some other consciousness or

no 1 at all. This could besides be related to the feeling which schizophrenics have of

some foreign power commanding the way of their regard.

By showing that schizophrenic disorder mirrors a philosophic impression like solipsism,

Sass successfully illustrates that it is non wholly accurate to believe in schizophrenic disorder as a

province of irrationality. While one might right province that solipsism is in some manner unlogical

and unreasonable in and of itself, it would be still be sensible to reason that there is

some built-in logic or ground in the find of this built-in self-contradiction. If

something is self-contradicting by nature, it is logical to reason that this is unlogical,

and therefore we should non see schizophrenic disorder as irrationality because there is a kind of logic to

its unlogical nature. Within the context of solipsism, it makes perfect, logical sense that a

individual should experience Godheads and powerless at the same clip. It would look so, that

schizophrenic disorder is, in a sense, the inconsequence of solipsism taken to it? s logical decision.

Part of the ground Sass? decision makes so much sense is the simple fact that

much of what the schizophrenics do does non look or sound like irrationality, but instead like

a preoccupation or compulsion with ground itself. They invariably examine and size up

every facet of themselves and their being. They do mental cheques and rechecks to

do certain they are really take parting in the activity which they believe they are.

They overanalyze every facet of normal human procedures and nature, and hunt for the

ground and account behind every vellication and jitter, every sound their organic structure makes.

Their manner of though is non unreason but over-reason, in which they frequently concentrate on

one object for so long that it begins to take on a phantasmagoric quality within a individual? s ain

head. As Sass points out, ? it is important that schizophrenic patients frequently do describe

that executing some action or interaction with others makes their uneven perceptual

experiences disappear-that when they comb their hair or shovel snow & # 8230 ; the universe turns

normal once more, at least for a time. ? ( p.113 ) This suggests that when a schizophrenic individual

removes himself from the inactive universe, he has the ability to halt the delusions-the

psychotic beliefs are at least partly a consequence of over analysis of the consensual universe. Schreber

attempts to get away this universe of? compulsive thought, ? but can non.

We must besides take into consideration another of import facet of schizophrenic disorder

which Sass points out, viz. , ? eldritch particularity. ? Schizophrenics frequently view the

universe with a ageless feeling that everything is go oning for a peculiar ground, that

every action and happening points to something else. Unfortunately, they seldom know

what such things point to, or why certain happenings are of import: they merely know

that they are. ? A patient may see a Canis familiaris raising its left paw & # 8230 ; or notices a ruddy pickup truck

parked on a span under which he is about to go through. At the same clip, he feels perfectly

sure that this is non an inadvertent occurrence & # 8230 ; as if there were something merely excessively

precise & # 8230 ; ? ( p.100 ) This construct of world, in which a individual feels that everything he

sees is slightly symbolic or declarative of something else, helps us to understand why

schizophrenics have such jobs confronting the nonsubjective universe in a non-metaphorical

sense. It besides sheds visible radiation on the desire of the schizophrenic to invariably analyse

everything for meaning-while he has a cardinal belief that every event has significance

or a intent, he does non cognize what that intent or significance is, and therefore hunts for it

merely as any sane individual would make in such a state of affairs.

Though their accounts for things do non ever jive with nonsubjective world, yet

this surely does non intend that their whole idea procedure is unlogical. Their manner of

ground works absolutely within their ain delusional world-we as sane people seem to miss

the desire to come in this universe, though clearly accessible by basic use of a

philosophic principle. More frequently than non a schizophrenic knows what he says doesn? T

average anything to you-this shows non merely an apprehension of this world but a

cardinal apprehension of their ain.


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