IntrospectionIntrospection and schizophrenia: A comparative investigation of anomalous self experiences

Louis Sass, Elizabeth Pienkos, Barnaby Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This paper offers a comparative investigation of anomalous self-experiences common in schizophrenia (defined in Examination of Anomalous Self Experiences (EASE) instrument) and those of normal individuals in an intensely introspective orientation (early 20th-century "introspectionist" psychology). The latter represent a relatively pure manifestation of certain forms of exaggerated self-consciousness ("hyperreflexivity"), one facet of the disturbance of core- or minimal-self ("ipseity" disturbance) postulated as central in schizophrenia. Significant similarities with schizophrenia-like experience were found but important differences also emerged. Affinities included feelings of passivity, fading of self or world, and alienation from thoughts, feelings, or lived-body. Differences involved confusion between self and world and severe dislocation or erosion of first-person perspective, qualities unique to schizophrenia. The purpose is threefold: 1, place the putatively schizophrenic experiences of self-disorder in a broader, comparative context; 2, evaluate hypotheses concerning core processes in schizophrenia; 3, orient investigation of possible pathogenetic pathways as well as psychotherapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-867
Number of pages15
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • Anomalous self-experience
  • Depersonalization
  • Hyperreflexivity
  • Introspectionism
  • Ipseity
  • Psychiatric phenomenology
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia


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