Neurocognitive models of schizophrenia: a neurophenomenological critique

Psychopathology 37 (1):8–19 (2004)
In the past dozen years a number of theoretical models of schizophrenic symptoms have been proposed, often inspired by advances in the cognitive sciences, and especially cognitive neuroscience. Perhaps the most widely cited and influential of these is the neurocognitive model proposed by Christopher Frith (1992). Frith's influence reaches into psychiatry, neuroscience, and even philosophy. The philosopher John Campbell (1999a), for example, has called Frith's model the most parsimonious explanation of how self-ascriptions of thoughts are subject to errors of identification. "On reflection, it also seems that this is not just one possible theory; it is the simplest theory which has any prospect of explaining the sense of agency, and we ought to work from it, introducing complications only as necessary" (1999a, p. 612). Not everyone agrees. In their recent analysis of alien voices and inserted thoughts in schizophrenia, Stephens and Graham (2000) offer a critique of Frith. Their criticism, however, although serious, is neither deep nor extensive. They outline three points. First, Frith fails to provide an adequate account of why a subject who experiences thought insertion would misattribute that thought to some other agent. Second, Frith does not clarify the distinction between thought insertion and thought influence. And third, Frith fails to explain how a subject can claim both that he is thinking the thought and that the thought is someone else's thought (Stephens and Graham..
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