International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 3 Num. 2 - December 2003


?Negative Symptoms?, Schizophrenia, and the Self ["S?ntomas Negativos", Esquizofrenia, y el Yo]

Volume 3 Num. 2 - December 2003 - Pages 153-180


Louis A. Sass


Currently, the most prominent way of subtyping schizophrenic symptoms is the distinction between the ?positive? and ?negative? syndromes (often supplemented by a third group of ?disorganization? symptoms). This article offers a theoretical and phenomenological critique of this distinction, focusing on the subjective experience of the so-called ?negative symptoms,? and utilizing the autobiographical descriptions of Antonin Artaud. Schizophrenia, it is argued, can best be understood as a self-disorder or ipseity-disturbance (ipse is Latin for ?self? or ?itself?) involving ?hyperreflexivity? and ?diminished self-affection?. Hyperreflexivity is a condition in which 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. Diminished self-affection involves a decline in the sense of existing as a living subject of awareness. The present paper focuses on hyperreflexive aspects. Hyperreflexive qualities can be manifest on a number of distinct levels or in a variety of different ways ?involving different degrees of sophistication and intellectual self-consciousness, and not necessarily implying a significant amount of volition, intellectual activity, or reflective self-control. Here the ?reflective? as opposed to the more automatic or ?operative? forms of hyperreflexivity are distinguished. Another distinction concerns whether the reflexivity in question is compensatory, consequential, or basal -that is, whether it occurs in some kind of defensive compensation for, or as a consequence of, some more basic defect or condition; or else as a facet of the basic defect itself.

Key words:

negative symptoms, schizophrenia, self-disorder, self, hyperreflexivity.

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