Consciousness Disorders in Schizophrenia: A Forgotten Land for Psychopathology

By José M Villagrán | International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Consciousness Disorders in Schizophrenia: A Forgotten Land for Psychopathology


José M Villagrán, International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy


The scientific study of consciousness has been boosted in the last two decades, especially from philosophical and neuroscientific realms. Before that, the topic was neglected, particularly in psychiatry in which, either out-of-consciousness experiences were emphasized (as in psychoanalysis) or consciousness was viewed as epiphenomenic to the underlying organic disorders that had to be studied. This situation has hardly improved in modern psychiatry. Reasons have been suggested, referring to characteristics of the phenomenon (fuzzy boundaries, conceptual confusion, epistemological controversies on first/third person description) but also to the evolution of psychiatry itself during the twentieth century (Anglo-Saxon psychiatry supremacy with its emphasis on third person descriptions, modular modelling of mental symptoms, descriptive psychopathology considered to be transparent, etc).

Accordingly, the role of a disordered consciousness in schizophrenia, which was contemplated by Continental psychiatry (Dagonet, Janet, Berze, Ey), has hardly been considered by recent psychopathology research. However, there is growing data showing that certain functions that modern science considers to be part of consciousness (sense of agency, self, episodic and autobiographic memory, executive functions, insight, monitoring) could be impaired in certain schizophrenics. From different realms (neurophenomenology, neuropsychology and neurosciences), the study of consciousness and its role in schizophrenia has been approached in recent years, and clinical phenomena such as thought insertion, depersonalisation, hallucinations, self fragmentation, disorders of episodic and working memory and sense of agency and action planning have been accounted for from the perspective of a putative disorder of consciousness.

CONCEPT OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

It can be stated that consciousness is one of the most baffling, enigmatic and mysterious phenomena in nature. Much has been written, especially in the last decade, about it and, however, little is known about what it really is, its origins and how to study it. One source of confusion is its polysémie meaning. It may be that consciousness refers to a more or less heterogeneous group of phenomena (Wilkes, 1988; Block, 1994). To make things worse, the use of analogous terms (awareness, perception, attention, inner knowledge) is of no use to conceptual clarification: some refer to different phenomena (Block, 1996; Baars, 1997) and some refer to each other in a circular manner (Giizeldere, 1995). Nevertheless, circularity in definition is not an exclusive problem of consciousness since other basic scientific terms such as energy, in physics, or stimulus, response or reinforcement, in psychology, cannot be analysed by looking at their components and need to be explained by referring to other terms (Velmans, 1996). In this sense, it may be the case that consciousness is a term that should not be defined beforehand but only after having been used in a specific context (Valentine, 1999).

Two main uses of consciousness can be distinguished (OED, 1971): (1) the ethical or social usage, applied to individuals (moral consciousness or knowledge or own misdemeanours) or groups (shared knowledge): it is the oldest use, stemming from the original Latin term and, by extension, it has led to other uses (consciousness of class, political consciousness, consciousness-raising); (2) the psychological usage, individual, also with two senses: on the one hand, consciousness as the faculty or state of being conscious of something, which is a necessary condition to any cognition, feeling or volition; on the other hand, the state of being conscious, condition of normal wakefulness. The former, derived from the modern conception of consciousness originated in 17th century with Descartes and Locke, implies a transitive or intentional component (consciousness of) and also allows for new facets of consciousness (self-consciousness, consciousness of self, qualia) to be studied separately. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Consciousness Disorders in Schizophrenia: A Forgotten Land for Psychopathology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.