Phenomenology and neurobiology of self disorder in schizophrenia: Secondary factors

Louis A. Sass, Juan P. Borda

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30 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia is a diverse and varying syndrome that defies most attempts at classification and pathogenetic explanation. This is the second of two articles offering a comprehensivemodel meant to integrate an understanding of schizophrenia-related forms of subjectivity, especially anomalous core-self experience (disturbed ipseity), with neurocognitive and neurodevelopmental findings. Previously we discussed the primary or foundational role of disturbed intermodal perceptional integration ("perceptual dys-integration"). Here we discuss phenomenological alterations that can be considered secondary in a pathogenetic sense-whether as consequential products downstream froma more originary disruption, or as defensive reactions involving quasi-intentional or even volitional compensations to the more primary disruptions. These include secondary forms of: 1, hyperreflexivity, 2, diminished self-presence (self-affection), and 3. disturbed "grip" or "hold" on the cognitive/perceptual field of awareness. We consider complementary relations between these secondary abnormal experiences while also considering their temporal relationships and pathogenetic intertwiningwith themore primary phenomenological alterations discussed previously, all in relation to the neurodevelopmental model. The secondary phenomena can be understood as highly variable factors involving overall orientations or attitudes toward experience; they have some affinities with experiences of meditation, introspectionism, and depersonalization defense. Also, they seem likely to become more pronounced during adolescence as a result of new cognitive capacities related to development of the prefrontal lobes, especially attention allocation, executive functions, abstraction, andmeta-awareness. Heterogeneity in these secondary alterations might help explainmuch of the clinical diversity in schizophrenia, both between patients and within individual patients over time-without however losing sight of key underlying commonalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-482
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Neurocognitive-models
  • Phenomenology
  • Philosophy
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self-disorder

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