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March 1958

Intrafamilial Environment of the Schizophrenic Patient: VI. The Transmission of IrrationalityThe Transmission of Irrationality

Author Affiliations

New Haven, Conn.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(3):305-316. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340030069012

One of the distinctive features of schizophrenia lies in the disturbed symbolic functioning—in the paralogic quality of the patient's thinking and communicating that alters his internal representation of reality. We are following the hypothesis that the schizophrenic patient escapes from an untenable world in which he is powerless to cope with insoluble conflicts by the device of imaginatively distorting his symbolization of reality. Such internalized maneuvers do not require action, or coming to terms with other persons, or altering their attitudes. The patient can regain the mastery that he once possessed in childhood, before his reality was firmly structured, and it could still give way before the power of his wishes. It can be an alluring way because it is self-contained. It is a bitter way because it is isolating.

The present study will focus on this critical characteristic of schizophrenia, and, therefore, must neglect many other aspects of the