Refining the explanation of cotard's delusion

Mind and Language 15 (1):111-122 (2000)
Abstract
An elegant theory in cognitive neuropsychiatry explains the Capgras and Cotard delusions as resulting from the same type of anomalous phenomenal experience explained in different ways by different sufferers. ‘Although the Capgras and Cotard delusions are phenomenally distinct, we thus think that they represent patients’ attempts to make sense of fundamentally similar experiences’ (Young and Leafhead, 1996, p. 168). On the theory proposed by Young and Leafhead, the anomalous experience results from damage to an information processing subsystem which associates an affect of ‘familiarity’ with overt recognition of faces, and, sometimes, scenes and objects. When the normal affect of familiarity is absent the subject experiences an unusual feeling of derealization or depersonalization. The Cotard and Capgras patients adopt different, delusional, explanations of this unusual qualitative state, for reasons to do with ‘attributional style’. It is part of this attribution hypothesis that delusional subjects, like normal people, interpret perceptual phenomena in the light of a set of background beliefs whose structure is a product of social/contextual influences and individual psychological dispositions. That structure predisposes people to reason in certain ways, to discount or reinterpret evidence and to favour certain hypoth-
Keywords Cognitive Science  Delusion  Neuroscience  Psychiatry  Science
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