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Journal: Horizon. Studies in Phenomenology (Vol.8, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 502-515

Keywords : Cognitive sciences; minimal self; agency; psychopathologies; thought insertion; delusions of control; terminal lucidity.;

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This paper aims to analyze neuropsychiatric pathological experiences (as thought insertion and delusions of control) in which features intrinsic to subjectivity are deeply affected to the extent that the first-person perspective is lost, an essential core of the subjective condition. The distinction between the sense of agency and the sense of ownership is addressed, in particular in the context of unbidden thoughts and thought insertion. A gradualist reading of the distinction is suggested, and the problem of phenomenological adequacy of the sense of agency for thoughts is raised. Descriptive arguments are provided to show what a minimal self consists of and how it is possible that it does not get lost in extreme neuro- and psycho-pathologies, including a puzzling phenomenon such as terminal lucidity, the case in which an unexpected return of mental clarity and memory take place shortly before death in patients suffering from severe psychiatric and neurologic disorders. Based on these phenomena it is suggested that subjectivity may be underlain by some ‘mechanisms' different from those usually assigned by neuroscientific models of normal brains. Finally, the challenges that emerge both for neurology and for phenomenological analysis are set out, opening new paths for the research and comprehension of subjectivity.

Last modified: 2020-01-30 05:31:21