Self-experience in the prodromal phases of schizophrenia

A pilot study of first-admissions

Josef Parnas, Lennart Jansson, Louis Sass, Peter Handest

pp. 97-106


The authors report on a pilot-feasibility study of early stages of the development of schizophrenia, presenting a first sample of 18 first-admitted cases at the University Department at Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen, resulting in the minimal incidence rate of 37 per 100,000. Long duration of untreated psychosis was associated with very early age of onset. The psychiatric interviews were guided by phenomenological approach and were specifically targeting disorders of self-experience preceding schizophrenia, which were demonstrated in 70% of cases. The following patterns of morbid self-experience were identified: diminished sense of self-presence and subjecthood (diminished ipseity), hypereflexivity and spatialization of experience, experiences of psycho-corporeal disintegration and diminished hold on perceptual and conceptual meaning. It is suggested that altered self- experience may be a potentially important marker for identifying preschizophrenic prodromes.

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