ASC HOME   2002 Conference Home   About this Contribution

American Society for Cybernetics
ASC 2002 Conference
June 13-16, Santa Cruz 


  Biology, Conversation, Schizophrenia

Larry Richards

Transcription from presentation slides


The Schizophrenic Experience

  • Change in personality (loss of affect)
  • Anxiety -- restless, talks louder or remains silent, unsure of self
  • Loss of interest in daily life
  • Obsession with things religious or sexual
  • Alcohol or drug abuse to dull pain

The Schizophrenic Experience (continued)

  • Lost in thought -- preoccupied
  • Voices from "nowhere" or from "inside"
  • Confusion of realities
  • Paranoia -- world as game / conspiracy
  • Unusual behavior -- as though a "cry" for help or attention (delusions of grandeur, self-deprecation)

Biological Explanation

  • Sensitivity to neurotransmitters
  • Genetic influences
  • "Physical" risk factors
  • Physiological collapse in the brain
  • Approach: Medication(s)

Social Explanation

  • Inability to adjust to an insane society (Szasz)
  • Absent or conflicting affect in family -- "double bind" (Bateson)
  • Separation of self observed by others (role) from "inner self" (Laing)
  • Approach: "Dialogic" therapies


  • Dynamics of interaction
  • Source of perturbation
  • Stimulus for thinking
  • Resolution / dissolution of conflict
  • Medium for "expressed emotion"
  • Everyday conversation vs. "designed" conversation

Cybernetic Ideas

  • Two-value vis-à-vis multi-valued logic (world as right / wrong, good / evil, taking sides)
  • Dynamics vis-à-vis causality (separation of rationality / emotionality, mind / body)
  • Autonomy vis-à-vis control (confusion of self-projection / self-observation)
  • Self as object vis-à-vis process (obsession with self depreciation / aggrandizement)

Concluding Thoughts

  • Orientation to dynamics
  • Personal logics: coping with ambiguity
  • Partners in language
  • Soceity: participation vs. self-esteem
  • Prospects / pitfalls of cognitive therapy
  • Role for medication

ASC HOME   BACK: 2002 Conference Contributions   Top of Page

This HTML transcription was generated from (e.g.) an electronic manuscript and/or whatever other record materials were available. The manuscript has been transcribed "as is" - i.e., with no modifications beyond those minor ones required for basic Web viewing (e.g., tagging special characters, converting graphics).

HTML transcription: Randy Whitaker, October 2002