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Intentionality, Identity, and Delusions of Control in Schizophrenia: A Husserlian Perspective

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In response to criticisms of phenomenology as being a solipsistic approach to psychological research and theory, this paper examines the interplay of both the creative/active and receptive/passive constituents of subjective experience identified in Husserl's exposition of intentional analysis. By delineating the ways in which intentional constitution requires passive as well as active processes, we come to see in the first part of this paper how experience and personal identity are as much formed and informed by the social and historical world as they are created by individual subjects. Once we have established the non-solipsistic nature of phenomenology, we then apply it in the second part of this paper to open a window onto the disorder of self long considered to be integral to schizophrenia. Through an exploration of the constitution of sense of self in the experiences of two people with schizophrenia, we see how cognitive disruptions, auditory hallucinations, and delusional ideation may be related to fundamental peculiarities in a person's experiences of intentionality and his/her resulting sense of agency and identity. In conclusion, we suggest that while phenomenology may not be able to provide a complete account of psychosis, it may be used to shed valuable, descriptive light on subjective aspects that provide a conceptual base for the consideration of other factors.


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