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Meaning, Mind and Communication

Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics

Edited By Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson and Piotr Konderak

This volume constitutes the first anthology of texts in cognitive semiotics – the new transdisciplinary study of meaning, mind and communication that combines concepts and methods from semiotics, cognitive science and linguistics – from a multitude of established and younger scholars. The chapters deal with the interaction between language and other semiotic resources, the role of consciousness and concepts, the nature of metaphor, the specificity of human evolution and development, the relation between cognitive semiotics and related fields, and other central topics. They are grouped in four sections: (i) Meta-theoretical perspectives, (ii) Semiotic development and evolution, (iii) Meaning across media, modes and modalities, (iv) Language, blends and metaphors.

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Chapter 16. Cognitive Semiotics of Mental Disorders, with Focus on Hallucinations (Štěpán Pudlák)


Štěpán Pudlák

Chapter 16

Cognitive Semiotics of Mental Disorders, with Focus on Hallucinations

1. Introduction

In this chapter I introduce the potential of a cognitive semiotic approach for the study of mental disorders. The vast field of research of mental disorders is approached from several scientific perspectives. Each of these perspectives has its benefits as well as its limitations. My aim is to integrate psychiatric accounts of schizophrenia with semiotics as a methodology for the analysis of signs and signification. Such transdisciplinarity is one of the key features of cognitive semiotics (Zlatev 2012: 14).

Psychiatric approaches to the symptoms of mental disorders are usually heuristic, which means that they require an understanding of what these symptoms are. Semiotics, on the other hand, offers theoretical concepts through which we can analyse symptoms from a different perspective. We can then, for example, compare hallucinations to other mental phenomena. In this chapter I shall argue that hallucinations are specific on the level of indexicality of signs and that their indexicality is the same as in the case of sensual perceptions.

Section 2 outlines the current status of semiotic theories of mental disorders. Then I focus on the discourse of psychiatry and specifically on how the symptoms of schizophrenia are described. In Sections 4 and 5, a cognitive semiotic approach informed by Peircean semiotics is presented and applied to hallucinations. I conclude by briefly comparing my cognitive semiotic analysis...

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