Intensity of Experience: Maher’s Theory of Schizophrenic Delusion Revisited

Neuroethics 12 (2):171-182 (2019)

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Abstract
Maher proposed in 1974 that schizophrenic delusions are hypotheses formed to explain anomalous experiences. He stated that they are “rational, given the intensity of the experiences that they are developed to explain.” Two-factor theorists of delusion criticized Maher’s theory because 1) it does not explain why some patients with anomalous experiences do not develop delusions, and 2) adopting and adhering to delusional hypotheses is irrational, considering the totality of experiences and patients’ other beliefs. In this paper, the notion of the intensity of experience is reappraised to uphold Maher’s basic conception. Regarding 1), I propose that differences in the intensity of anomalous experience are vital to whether the patient forms delusions, while partially reforming his rationality claim regarding 2). Although adopting delusions is irrational, it is inevitable and excusable, given the intensity of the patient’s anomalous experience. With the aid of this notion, it is maintained that anomalous experience is sufficient for the development of delusions, at least in some cases of schizophrenia. Compared to other theories of schizophrenic delusion, Maher’s theory, which embraces the notion of intensity of experience, better explains why such irrational mental states as delusions develop from anomalous experiences, and why delusional patients persist in believing specific thematic content.
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DOI 10.1007/s12152-018-9385-4
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References found in this work BETA

The Epistemic Innocence of Motivated Delusions.Lisa Bortolotti - 2015 - Consciousness and Cognition (33):490-499.
Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two-Factor Account.Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon & N. Breen - 2001 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2-3):133-58.
Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two-Factor Account.Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon & Nora Breen - 2001 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2):133-158.
Abductive Inference and Delusional Belief.Max Coltheart, Peter Menzies & John Sutton - 2010 - Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 15 (1):261-287.
The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Delusions.Robyn Langdon & Max Coltheart - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (1):183-216.

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