Phenomenological Psychopathology and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Approaches and Misunderstandings


The present paper clarifies key issues in phenomenology and phenomenological psychopathology (especially of schizophrenia) through a critique of a recent article that addresses these topics. Topics include (1) Phenomenology's role in clarifying issues not amenable to purely empirical methods; (2) The relationship between a phenomenological approach (focusing on the subjective life of the patient) and empirical science, including neuroscience; (3) The nature of self-experience, especially in its pre-reflective form ("ipseity"—involving "operative intentionality"), and its possible disturbance in schizophrenia ("hyper-reflexivity" and "diminished self-affection"); (4) The relationship between self-disturbance in schizophrenia and disorders of both temporality and (what Husserl termed) "passive syntheses"; (5) The role of intentional or quasi-volitional processes in the perceptual (and other) disorders in schizophrenia; (6) The nature and diversity of phenomenology's potential contribution to the enterprise of "explanation"; and (7) The meaning of several concepts: "hermeneutic" or "existential" approach, phenomenological "reflection," and "negative symptoms."