Is mental illness a form of violence against the self?
notes on ego disintegration in schizophrenia
This article seeks to provide a phenomenological inquiry into schizophrenia through which I propose to bring to the fore the mental violence exercised against the self in the case of a psychotic patient. My main aim is to show that a phenomenological analysis of mental illness, interpreted as a disintegration of the ego, can be very fruitful for understanding violence in general because it raises fundamental questions concerning intersubjectivity, intentionality, and self-awareness. In order to accomplish this objective, I will take as my point of departure a case study of mental illness as presented by the analyst Marguerite Sechehaye, and I will explore, first, the phenomenological implications of the disintegration of the ego, and second, the dynamics of the reconstruction of the ego. Third, I will address the question whether mental illness is a form of violence against the self, sketching an answer by interpreting the transition from the disintegration of the ego to its reconstruction as an elevation from a poor phenomenon to a saturated phenomenon. Finally, I will suggest how opening a dialogue between phenomenology and psychoanalysis can contribute to understanding the phenomenon of mental violence.