Here we consider interpersonal experience in schizophrenia, melancholia, and mania. Our goal is to improve understanding of similarities and differences in how other people can be experienced in these disorders, through a review of first-person accounts and case examples and of contemporary and classic literature on the phenomenology of these disorders. We adopt a tripartite/dialectical structure: first we explore main differences as traditionally described; next we consider how the disorders may resemble each other; finally we discuss more subtle but perhaps foundational ways in which the phenomenology of these disorders may nonetheless be differentiated. These involve disruptions of common sense and conventionality, abnormalities of empathy, distinct forms of paranoia and the sense of personal centrality, and altered perceptions of intentionality, deadness, and artificiality. We end by considering some neurocognitive research relevant to these abnormal forms of subjectivity, including work on theory of mind, experience of human movement, and perception of faces.
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Combs and Penn (2008) define paranoia as “the perception or belief that others have future or current malevolent or harmful intentions towards another person” (p. 175).
A review article by Brune (2005) discussed 23 studies of ToM in schizophrenia appearing between 1995 and 2003. A meta-analysis by Sprong et al. (2007) compared 29 studies appearing between 1993 and 2006 that investigated ToM in schizophrenia. Since 2006 we have noted an additional 122 articles published on ToM in schizophrenia plus 21 articles on ToM in affective disorders published since 2004 based on a PsycInfo search of relevant key words done in June 2012.