Psychiatry on schizophrenia

Angela Woods

in The Sublime Object of Psychiatry

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199583959
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754692 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

 Psychiatry on schizophrenia

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This chapter has presented an account of psychiatry’s ongoing Kraepelinian conviction that schizophrenic symptoms result from an underlying disease process.35 I have described a psychiatry confident in its potential to manage schizophrenia in theory and in practice but unable to explain or treat it conclusively. These claims need now to be understood in relation to clinical theory more broadly. The disciplinary domination of biological psychiatry was brought to an end by the Nazis’ genocidal eugenics programme, and it took the publication of DSM-III in 1980 to bring Kraepelin’s clinical picture of dementia praecox back to the centre of psychiatric thinking, where it now dominates the research agenda. To provide a more comprehensive account of schizophrenia in twentieth-century clinical theory, it is vital to consider the ways in which psychoanalysis not only challenged psychiatric models of schizophrenia but also advanced competing accounts of this disorder. The following chapter, then, extends my analysis of the status of schizophrenia to the key texts of psychoanalysis. Whereas psychiatry pursues schizophrenia primarily through its symptomatology and cannot, even by its own estimation, provide an adequate aetiological explanation for the disorder, psychoanalysis investigates the meaning of schizophrenic experience and offers vivid accounts of its psychic origins. Despite the significant theoretical differences between these disciplines, I will argue that in the case of schizophrenia they converge at the level of metatheory: for psychoanalysts, psychiatry’s sublime object refuses the conventional parameters of the analytic encounter only to be interpreted as a sublime text.

Chapter.  22311 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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