John T. Lysaker
University of Oregon, Department of Philosophy, USA

E-mail:jlysaker@oregon.uoregon.edu

 

SCHIZOPHRENIA AND COMPROMISES IN THE DIALOGICAL SELF:
THINKING ABOUT 'SYMPTOMS' AND 'PROBLEMS IN LIVING'

 

As described by an increasing number of modern thinkers, the self is a product of internal and external dialogues. Based upon diverse philosophical roots and psychological research this view emphasizes that coherent self-awareness does not come from a solitary single voice or synthetic self. Instead the self is better seen as a conversation between complementary, competing and contradictory voices or self-positions that simultaneously participate in social relationships. Put in a social context, when personally engaged, a range of associated self-positions are animated and one is required to move among them. In this paper we suggest that people with schizophrenia may have particular difficulties negotiating the internal and external conversations that constitute the self. In particular we hypothesize that for a number of reasons they may lapse into more monological or cacophonous forms of dialogical self-organization. We suggest that positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions and negative symptoms such as lack of affect can be seen as attempts to adapt given these difficulties, and that these difficulties may also explain the problems in living so widely experienced amongst this group. Lastly we discuss how this view is distinct from other current accounts of dysfunction in schizophrenia including those of psychoanalysis and the anti-psychiatry movement.