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date: 16 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Schizophrenic autism, as originally intended by Eugen Bleuler, signifies a pathognomic form of motivated unmooring from the world into a state of asocial fantasy. In this article we discuss the unity of the three key aspects of this autism: (i) an altered relation to reality; (ii) a distinctive fantasy-involving form of thinking; and (iii) a motivated retreat from the world. Phenomenological psychiatry deepens our understanding of (i) by theorizing it in terms of disturbed pre-reflective intersubjective engagement, yet it deprecates the criteria of (ii) fantasy and (iii) motivation. We question the assumptions behind this deprecation, re-theorizing (ii) as withdrawal to a state in which a fantasy/reality distinction is compromised, and reinstating the motivational criterion (iii) through recovering a properly pre-reflective conception of dynamic motivation. The result is a conception of autism which preserves the unity of Bleuler’s concept by unifying phenomenological and psychoanalytical perspectives on the intersubjective constitution of selfhood.

Keywords: autism, schizophrenia, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, fantasy, intersubjectivity, motivation

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