Schizophrenia and the Epistemology of Self-Knowledge

Extant philosophical accounts of schizophrenic alien thought neglect three clinically signifi cant features of the phenomenon. First, not only thoughts, but also impulses and feelings, are experienced as alien. Second, only a select array of thoughts, impulses, and feelings are experienced as alien. Th ird, empathy with experiences of alienation is possible. I provide an account of disownership that does justice to these features by drawing on recent work on delusions and selfknowledge. Th e key idea is that disownership occurs when there is a failure of rational control over one’s mind. Th is produces a clash between the deliverances of introspection and practical enquiry as ways of knowing one’s mind. Th is explanation places disownership on a continuum with more common aspects of our psychological life, such as addiction, akrasia, obsessional thinking, and immoral, selfi sh or shameful thoughts. I conclude by addressing objections, and exploring the relevance of my account to questions in the philosophy of psychiatry concerning the validity of our current taxonomy of symptoms, and the nature of psychiatric classifi cation..
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Johannes Roessler (2001). Understanding Delusions of Alien Control. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2-3):177-187.
Cynthia Macdonald (1998). Self-Knowledge and the "Inner Eye". Philosophical Explorations 1 (2):83-106.
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