Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 477–496 | Cite as

The disoriented self. Layers and dynamics of self-experience in dementia and schizophrenia

  • Michela SummaEmail author


This paper explores the question concerning the relationship between basic and higher layers of experience and self-experience. The latter distinction implicitly presupposes the idea of a univocal foundation. After explaining the formal ontological law of foundation, an attempt is made to clarify how the idea of foundation may be suitable to understand the relationship among moments, or layers, of self-experience. To this aim, the phenomenological descriptions of self- and world-experience in dementia and schizophrenia are compared. The comparison between these two, in many ways radically different, pathologies allows us to highlight both the potentialities and the limits of resorting to the foundational relationship for the description of lived experience. Taking the challenges coming from the description of dementia and schizophrenia into serious consideration, the meaning of the “stratified” account of self-experience will be eventually reassessed, and a way to complement the idea of foundation among layers will be proposed.


Phenomenology Psychopathology Self-experience Foundational relationship Dementia Schizophrenia 



I wish to thank the members of the phenomenology research group at the Psychiatric Department in Heidelberg, as well as two anonymous referees, for their thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Klinik für allgemeine PsychiatrieSektion Phänomenologische Psychopathologie und PsychotherapieHeidelbergGermany

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