International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Series | Book | Chapter


The "unconscious' in paranoid delusional psychosis

phenomenology, neuroscience, psychoanalysis

Aaron Mishara

pp. 169-197


In this contribution I present three overlapping approaches to the ­phenomenology of the unconscious (Conrad, Binswanger, Husserl). Conrad and Binswanger challenge the classical view that the delusional perception in schizophrenia is an abnormal symbolic meaning attached to an otherwise intact percept. Rather, a perceptual aspect or expressive (physiognomic) quality, detached from its visual context, becomes salient and develops into the delusion. Both believe that the delusional object involves a transformation of perceptual Gestalt-meaning on a "lower" unconscious phase of its development but they apply different methods. Conrad appeals to contemporary experimental work on microgenesis (Aktualgenese). Binswanger applies Husserl's "genetic" phenomenology. Conrad describes the delusional object as a pre-Gestalt (Vorgestalt), a physiognomic-expressive Gestalt-quality arrested at an earlier phase in the development of meaning which "normally" remains unconscious so far as consciousness remains intact. For Binswanger, the "delusional object" is formed from a sensory profile-aspect (Abschattung) released during the loosening of the perceptual object's internal structure (it's "internal horizon" of meaning). The phenomenological unconscious (Husserl) is two-pronged: it is both what underlies the lowermost background of any emergent Gestalt in the present, but it is also the past, the night of the unconscious, into which every ­emergent saliency passes. Time-consciousness is not the passive self-affection of pre-reflective self-awareness (M. Henry) but requires the unconscious relationship between present and past selves in the ongoing movement of self-transcendence. It is this self-transcendence which is both compromised and preserved by the metaphoric meaning of the delusional object in schizophrenia. "— End of Abstract'

Publication details

Published in:

Lohmar Dieter, Brudzińska Jagna (2012). Founding psychoanalysis phenomenologically: phenomenological theory of subjectivity and the psychoanalytic experience, Springer, Dordrecht.

Pages: 169-197

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-1848-7_9

Full citation:

Mishara Aaron (2012). The "unconscious' in paranoid delusional psychosis: phenomenology, neuroscience, psychoanalysis, in D. Lohmar & J. Brudzińska (eds.), Founding psychoanalysis phenomenologically, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 169-197.