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"My So-Called Delusions": Solipsism, Madness, and the Schreber Case

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This paper offers a critique of a central psychopathological concept, the notion of "poor reality-testing. "Using ideas from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, I consider the nature of delusions in schizophrenia, largely through examining Daniel Paul Schreber's famous Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Many schizophrenic individuals do not in fact mistake their fantasies for reality, as is traditionally assumed. Rather, I argue, they engage in a solipsistic mode of experience, a felt subjectivization of the lived world that is associated with a stance of passivity and hyperconsciousness. I discuss the existential conditions and consequences of this stance and show that certain anomalous or paradoxical features of schizophrenic delusion are explicable on this phenomenological account.

Affiliations: 1: Rutgers University

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