The Schizophrenic Sign: a dialectic of semiotics and schizophrenia
AbstractThis thesis posits as its central argument that placing semiotic theory in dialectic with the discourses of and about ‘schizophrenia’ will produce novel insights into both. Simultaneously, this thesis develops a semiological sign system for ‘schizophrenia’, mapping and critiquing its central narratives, organising ethics, aesthetics and thematics, whilst also offering a practical model as exemplar for a semiotic method of cultural, textual, medical, psychological and social critical analysis. In so doing, this thesis presents and develops the concept of ‘schizomimesis’, a term to describe the process by which the discourse and semiological sign system of ‘schizophrenia’ adopts formal qualities that mimetically embody the ‘disease’ symptomatology. The thesis explores this idea, placing different ‘symptoms’ in dialectic with different discourses: thought insertion, influence and the instability of signs in relation to diagnostics and aetiology; ‘psychotic’ speech and so-called thought disorder; distrubances of ipseity and magical thinking in narrative medicine and illness memoirs; hallucinations and delusions of reference in popular cinematic and televisual representations; deictic crises in the person, in the therapeutic process, and across popular culture and society. Throughout, the thesis constructs a de-psychologised and socialised, inter-subjective model of the self, inseparable from the dynamic of indivisible sign relations, and strives to understand ‘schizophrenia’ within this conceptual context. This thesis thereby offers a model of how medical humanities research can contribute evenly to the discplines from which it draws its materials and methodologies. At the same time, it hopes to offer humane and thoughtful observations on the personal, cultural, medical and social disadvantages and difficulties, and highly idiosyncratic experiences, endured by those with lived experience of ‘schizophrenia’.
Flexer, Michael James (2016) The Schizophrenic Sign: a dialectic of semiotics and schizophrenia. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.