Schizophrenic Autism

Richard Gipps, Sanneke de Haan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


Schizophrenic autism, as originally intended by Eugen Bleuler, signifies a pathognomic form of motivated unmooring from the world into a state of asocial fantasy. In this article we discuss the unity of the three key aspects of this autism: (i) an altered relation to reality; (ii) a distinctive fantasy-involving form of thinking; and (iii) a motivated retreat from the world. Phenomenological psychiatry deepens our understanding of (i) by theorizing it in terms of disturbed pre-reflective intersubjective engagement, yet it deprecates the criteria of (ii) fantasy and (iii) motivation. We question the assumptions behind this deprecation, re-theorizing (ii) as withdrawal to a state in which a fantasy/reality distinction is compromised, and reinstating the motivational criterion (iii) through recovering a properly pre-reflective conception of dynamic motivation. The result is a conception of autism which preserves the unity of Bleuler’s concept by unifying phenomenological and psychoanalytical perspectives on the intersubjective constitution of selfhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Phenomenological Psychopathology
EditorsGiovanni Stanghellini, Matthew Broome, Andrea Raballo, Anthony Vincent Fernandez, Paolo Fusar-Poli, René Rosfort
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198803157
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2018


  • Autism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Phenomenology
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Fantasy
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Motivation


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