A psychopathological examination of the we-perspective

Disorders in the schizophrenia spectrum are often considered archetypical examples of disorders of intersubjectivity. An extensive body of research literature has demonstrated that these patients underperform on a plethora of tests assessing different domains of social cognition (theory of mind, emotion processing, social perception etc.). Such symptoms seem to be an intrinsic trait-like feature of the disorders not exhaustively accounted for by other factors and indeed limited, odd or shallow relations, withdrawal, isolation, and eccentric attitudes have long since been found constitutive of the schizophrenia diagnosis. Thus the psychopathology of schizophrenia spectrum disorders seems to offer an eminently suitable case for testing some of the theoretical accounts of the we-perspective offered by the philosophical parts of the project.

This psychopathological effort shall then address the issues of we-intentionality - including important phenomena like “positive withdrawal” and “double bookkeeping” - through studying multifaceted data in psychiatric patients. More specifically a strong focus shall be put on investigating whether, to what extent, and how instabilities of the first-person perspective - “self-disorders” - may lead to a disturbed and diminished capacity for entering and maintaining a we-perspective. In addition I intend to explore whether such disruptions of the we-perspective might help account for the well-known difficulties that many patients with schizophrenia have in grasping social conventions and the tacit “rules of the game”. In societal terms it is the hope that a better understanding of “the disrupted we” in schizophrenia may provide a basis for novel psychotherapeutic approaches and improve treatment compliance.