Getting Stuck in the Ordered Sequence: Disrupted Temporal Processing in Patients with Schizophrenia and What It Tells Us About the Sense of Time Continuity

  • Anne GierschEmail author


Phenomenologists have long reported a breakdown of the temporal structure of consciousness in patients with schizophrenia, with a disruption of the sense of time continuity. I shortly summarize the models in phenomenology and in experimental psychology that have been proposed to explain how we reach a sense of time continuity. More recently, experimental results have revealed timing difficulties in patients with schizophrenia, both at unconscious and conscious levels, with a surprising high time resolution at the unconscious level. Together with experimental results from different laboratories, available data suggest complex mechanisms and especially interactions between a high-temporal resolution unconscious level and low-resolution conscious level. We discuss how the idea of closed-loop systems and a close interaction between non-conscious and conscious mechanisms may help to understand the underpinnings of the feeling of time continuity. In contrast with an open-loop view in which perception’s finality would be to reflect the external world and its physical continuity, the closed-loop view emphasizes reciprocal interactions between us and the outer world.



I would like to thank Thomas Fuchs and Virginie van Wassenhove for discussions prior to the writing of this chapter, which have been an important source of inspiration for this chapter.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSERM U1114, Pôle de Psychiatrie, Centre Hospitalier Régional Université de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance

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