Self-disturbance and schizophrenia: Structure, specificity, pathogenesis (Current issues, New directions)

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This paper offers an overview and clarification of the ipseity-disturbance or self-disorder hypothesis regarding schizophrenia, with focus on some recent and recommended research and theoretical refinements. There is need to expand research and theorizing in several directions-in order to: 1, specify more precisely what is truly distinctive in the schizophrenia spectrum, 2, explore internal structure and explanatory potential of this purported disturbance of minimal- or core-self experience, 3, generate testable hypotheses concerning pathogenetic pathways and psychotherapeutic interventions.Comparative studies can make a crucial scientific contribution. Some recent, exploratory studies are described: published reports were examined for alterations of self-experience in conditions outside the schizophrenia spectrum-mania, psychotic depression, and depersonalization disorder-and in one unusual attitudinal stance: intense introspection (as refined in early 20th century psychological research). Remarkable similarities (e.g., alienation/reification of thoughts and bodily experiences, fading of self and world) as well as some important differences (e.g., absence, outside schizophrenia, of severe erosion of minimal self-experience or real confusion of self and other) in types of self-anomalies were found. These support but also refine the ipseity-disturbance model. Future research should treat self-experience as an independent variable, manipulating and measuring this dimension (in both schizophrenic and non-schizophrenic populations) to study its associations with anomalies of cognition, affect, expression, and neural functioning already identified in schizophrenia.The self-disorder model offers an integrative and dynamic view of schizophrenia congruent with recent trends in cognitive neuroscience and consistent with the heterogeneous, varying, and holistic nature of this enigmatic illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Depersonalization
  • Introspection
  • Ipseity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self disorder

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