Thought insertion as a disownership symptom

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (4):911-927 (2015)
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Abstract

Stephens and Graham maintain that in cases of thought insertion, the sense of ownership is preserved, but there is a defect in the sense of agency. However, these theorists overlook the possibility that subjectivity might be preserved despite a defect in the sense of ownership. The claim that schizophrenia centers upon a loss of a sense of ownership is supported by an examination of some of the other notable disownership symptoms of the disorder, such as bodily alienation and experiences of “unworlding.” Is there a way to make sense of the “underlying characteristic modification” that ties together the various symptoms of schizophrenia and disrupts subjects’ “hold” on their own bodies and surroundings? I will argue that what accounts for subjects’ usual sense of ownership are fully embodied processes of causal-contextual information integration, which are made possible by subjects’ affective framing patterns. Attenuated affective framings lead to a loss of a sense of ownership and cause subjects to lose their “grip” on bodily sensations and mental states, which ultimately can result in experiences of thought insertion. I will conclude with some brief remarks about implications for treatment, and point to several body-centered intervention methods that might help to restore subjects’ sense of ownership

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