Language: On the Phenomenology of Linguistic Experience in Schizophrenia (Ancillary Article to EAWE Domain 4)

Elizabeth Pienkos, Louis Sass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Anomalies of language use and comprehension are common in schizophrenia. However, they are typically studied only from a diagnostic or behavioral perspective and viewed simply as deficits or disruptions of normal functioning. Such approaches ignore what it is like to experience language, and thus are at risk of missing aspects of these linguistic anomalies that may be crucial for understanding them. The Examination of Anomalous World Experience (EAWE) provides one way to inquire into the experiential changes related to and underlying these disturbances. This paper offers a summary of a number of theoretical and clinical works that informed the development of EAWE Domain 4, Language, to better contextualize and elaborate on the items that make up this domain. The forms of anomalous linguistic experience included in the EAWE can be generally classified into four groups: (1) Diminished interpersonal orientation, (2) Dissociation between language and experience, (3) Shifts of attention and context-relevance, and (4) Unusual attitudes toward language. We suggest that these kinds of experiential changes indicate a far richer and more complex relationship to language than that suggested by standard deficit models and theories. We hope that by considering and inquiring about the subjective experience of language, researchers and clinicians may develop a greater awareness of and appreciation for the variety of language-related experiences in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-89
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Language
  • Phenomenological psychopathology
  • Qualitative/ semi-structured interview
  • Schizophrenia
  • Thought disorder


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