Thought insertion clarified

Matthew Ratcliffe, Sam Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


‘Thought insertion’ in schizophrenia involves somehow experiencing one’s own thoughts as someone else’s. Some philosophers try to make sense of this by distinguishing between ownership and agency: one still experiences oneself as the owner of an inserted thought but attributes it to another agency. In this paper, we propose that thought insertion involves experiencing thought contents as alien, rather than episodes of thinking. To make our case, we compare thought insertion to certain experiences of ‘verbal hallucination’ and show that they amount to different descriptions of the same phenomenon: a quasi-perceptual experience of thought content. We add that the agency/ownership distinction is unhelpful here. What requires explanation is not why a person experiences a type of intentional state without the usual sense of agency, but why she experiences herself as the agent of one type of intentional state rather than another. We conclude by sketching an account of how this might happen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-269
JournalJournal of consciousness studies
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Thought insertion clarified'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this