What Can Schizophrenia Teach Us About Emotions?

  • Dina Mendonça
Part of the Studies in Brain and Mind book series (SIBM, volume 12)


The chapter argues that the contradiction of emotional experiences identified in schizophrenic patients is a part of everyone’s emotional life. Building on Ratcliffe’s idea of thinking of schizophrenia in relational terms and taking up the claim that the minimal self reflects a fundamental orientation to the world and the social world, the chapter looks into schizophrenic emotional life as a way to offer insights about emotions. The visibility of contradiction seen in schizophrenia patients brings to the surface some aspects of the complexity of emotional life, and reveals some of the processing of emotional experiences. Consequently, taking the contradiction of emotional experience in schizophrenia as familiar instead of strange, shows that emotional life entails experiences in which we can find inconsistencies between first order emotions, moods and the emotional episode, as well as experiences of conflict between first order emotions and meta-emotions. The chapter concludes by indicating that accepting the similarity of processing of layers of emotions and the recognition that the outcomes are different raises further issues for research questions to better understand schizophrenia.



This research work is supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (SFRH/BPD/102507/2014) and within the research project (PTDC/MHC-FIL/0521/2014), with the institutional backup of Instituto de Filosofia da Nova (IFILNOVA), Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas of Universidade Nova de Lisboa, within the activities of the Lisbon Mind and Reasoning Group. Huge thanks to Luke Hartauer for kindly proofreading the chapter. Thank you to Inês Hipólito, Jorge Gonçalves, Klaus Gerner and Rob Clowes for their time, questions and discussion in the various presentations of earlier versions of the chapter. And a deep thanks to Phillip Gerrans and Inês Hipólito for critical review with suggestions for improving the chapter, and to the anonymous reviewers for insightful comments.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dina Mendonça
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, UNLInstituto de Filosofia da Nova (IFLNOVA)LisbonPortugal

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