'Disorders of Thinking as Disorders of Relating: A Phenomenological Understanding of Schizophrenic Thought Disorder'

Schizophrenic thought disorder is often considered to reflect impaired interpersonal understanding. Thus cognitive approaches suggest that a speaker with impaired social understanding fails to tailor the expression of intact thought to the needs of their listeners – giving rise to the mere appearance of ‘thought disorder’. This, however, presupposes the disreputable ‘inner/outer’ picture, deconstructed by Wittgenstein, in which thought and communication are fundamentally separable phenomena. To preserve the twin intuitions that thought disorder is more than appearance, and that it reflects disturbed social understanding, we may draw on Heidegger’s conception of interpersonal relatedness as constitutive of thinking itself. This paper instances the theme that what makes schizophrenic life puzzling is not always something intractable about psychotic phenomena, but rather our disposition to construe non-psychotic life – e.g. the connections between thought, discourse, and human relatedness – in a schizoid fashion.