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On Thought Insertion

In this paper, I investigate in detail one theoretical approach to the symptom of thought insertion. This approach suggests that patients are led to disown certain thoughts to which they are subjected, because they lack a sense of active participation in the occurrence of those thoughts. I examine one reading of this claim, according to which the patients' anomalous experiences arise from a breakdown of cognitive mechanisms tracking the production of occurrent thoughts, before sketching an alternative reading, according to which their experiences have to be explained in terms of a withdrawal, on the part of the patients themselves, from certain forms of active engagement in reasoning. I conclude with a discussion of the relationship between this view and the idea that patients' reports of thought insertion reflect a situation in which the boundaries between the self and the world have become uncertain.