Medusag's stare: A case study of working with self-disturbance in the early phase of Schizophrenia

Barnaby Nelson, Louis A. Sass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The present therapeutic case study demonstrates how concepts from phenomenological psychiatry can be applied to treatment of the early phase of schizophrenia. The case described here is of a 22-year-old man seen at a youth mental health service who experienced a catatonic episode with residual cognitive symptoms. The notion of a disturbed basic sense of self"" based on the ipseity-hyperreflexivity model and the concept of ontological anxiety""formed the basis of the clinical formulation and treatment. These concepts highlight the patientg's vulnerabilities and difficulties in interpersonal contact. In addition they help to clarify potential dangers inherent in " objectifying" the patient, in stimulating excessive self-reflection, and in encouraging interpersonal engagement that is overly intense. Alternative strategies guided by a phenomenological appreciation of the centrality of a disturbed basic sense of self (disturbed ipseity) are described. These include certain forms of empathic understanding, including use of phenomenological concepts to help the patient comprehend their difficulties, encouraging a " second person" perspective, prominent use of the therapeutic relationship, and strategies that engender a form of immersion or absorption in present activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-504
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Case Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Phenomenology
  • Prodrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self

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