SCHIZOPHRENIA AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE DIALOGICAL SELF

 

Over the last century theorists and researchers as varied as Dewey, Nietzsche, Bakhtin and Hermans have stressed the dynamic and multifaceted nature of subjective sense of self. According to this line of inquiry the self is inherently 'dialogical', or the product of ongoing dialogue both within the individual and between the individual and other individuals. This view emphasizes that self-awareness is not an awareness of an isolated single voice or a seamless viewpoint, but a collective of numerous complementary, competing and sometimes contradictory voices and beliefs. The self here is importantly not only an awareness of this collective but also the experience of moving between various points within the collective. In this symposium we suggest that this line of thinking may be useful in understanding the disruptions of sense of self common in schizophrenia and in evolving a conceptualization of how psychotherapy may be useful to persons suffering from this disorder. In the first of two presentations, a theoretical basis is presented for understanding the 'positive' and 'negative' symptoms of schizophrenia as intimately associated with dialogical disturbances. This view is then contrasted with existing psychoanalytic and anti-psychiatry views of schizophrenia. In the second presentation the potential of psychotherapy to facilitate changes in the dialogical self are examined in a qualitative analysis of transcripts of a person with schizophrenia over a year and a half of psychotherapy. This work tracks changes simultaneously in the client's dialogical quality and narrative structure and suggests that recovery from schizophrenia may be best conceptualized as occuring around the dialogical exchanges which tell a person's narrative rather than in the story or person themselves.

 

John T. Lysaker, University of Oregon, USA
Schizophrenia and compromises in the dialogical self:
Thinking about 'symptoms' and 'problems in living'

 

Paul H. Lysaker, Indiana University, Indianapolis (IN), USA
Dialogical and narrative transformations in the psychotherapy of persons with schizophrenia