‘Schizophrenic Person’ or ‘Person with Schizophrenia’?: An Essay on Illness and the Self

  • Sass L
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Most contemporary experts and mental health advocates would reject the term 'schizophrenic', whether used as noun or adjective. The ter-minology they prefer—'person with schizophrenia'—seems safely to nom-inalize the ailment and set it apart from the afflicted person, treating the disease entity as a foreign body. The present essay does not advocate reject-ing the current terminology. It offers a critical perspective on the contempo-rary consensus by considering three aspects of schizophrenia that current terminology downplays or denies: (1) how schizophrenia may not merely hijack but actually transform the self; (2) how schizophrenic psychosis may grow out of a particular personality orientation, thus representing the culmi-nation of a personal trajectory or mode of being; (3) how schizophrenic modes of being can sometimes involve, often in paradoxical ways, certain forms of intentionality, self-awareness, commitment or even quasi-volitional choice. Several disadvantages of the 'person with schizophrenia' formula are considered: (1) conceptual oversimplification of the psychological real-ities of schizophrenia; (2) forms of stigmatizing inherent in the biomedical disease model; (3) closing down a potential 'dialogue with madness'.

Author-supplied keywords

  • diagnosis
  • illness
  • personhood
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia
  • self
  • volition

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  • Louis A. Sass

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