1st Edition

Reconceptualizing Schizophrenia The Phenomenology of Urhomelessness

Edited By Sarah Kamens Copyright 2023
    292 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume presents a novel, international research study that reconceptualizes schizophrenia through an investigation of ways in which the first-hand experiences of those with a diagnosis differ from conventional diagnostic definitions.

    Offering insight into the history of psychiatric taxonomies in general and the invention of the schizophrenia diagnosis in particular, Reconceptualizing Schizophrenia maps the emergence of uncertainties about the empirical and conceptual status of contemporary diagnostic systems. Particular focus is given to the heterogeneity problem, or the problem of wide empirical variation within and between disorder categories. At the heart of this book are interviews with mental health service users with psychotic-disorder diagnoses in New York City and Jerusalem. Through a detailed portrait of their existential and socio-institutional worlds, the book unveils a way of being-in-the-world characterized by the experience of feeling profoundly vulnerable and unsafe in an inhospitable world as well as foreclosed from belonging to one or more human communities. As this psychological portrait of urhomelessness unfolds, the reader becomes slowly aware of the relationships between psychotic experiences – often thought to be bizarre or ‘un-understandable’ – and the timeless ways in which all humans seek to dwell in the world.

    Making an important contribution to the phenomenological-existential literature on psychosis, and demonstrating interdisciplinary and transcultural approaches to understanding anomalous experiences, this volume will be of great interest to researchers and scholars of transcultural psychiatry, clinical psychology, and critical theory.


    John Strauss


    Sarah Kamens

    1. Psychiatric Diagnosis in History

    Sarah Kamens & Fredrick Wertz

    2. The Emergence of the "Schizophrenia" Diagnosis: Convention, Cross-Cultural, and Alternative Approaches

    Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

    3. Phenomenological Accounts

    Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

    4. A Multi-Site International Project

    Sarah Kamens, Frederick Wertz, Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat, Jacob Kader, David Miller, Lyra Ward, Tal Shachar-Malach & Pesach Lichtenberg.

    5. Urhomelessness as a Way of Being-in-the-World

    Sarah Kamens, Frederick Wertz, Ryan Scanlon, Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat, Jillian Minahan Zucchetto, Faith Forgione, Ileana Driggs, Lia Kamar, Katherine Sullivan, Caroline Silva, Oren Matar & Mary Beth Quaranta Morrissey.

    6. Wandering in Exile: The Nomadic Moment

    Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

    7. Imaginal and Ideal Home: The Settled Moment

    Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

    8. Impossibility of Shelter: The Destitute Moment

    Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

    9. A Continuum of Experience: Urhomelessness and Recovery

    Sarah Kamens, Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat, Ryan Scanlon, Faith Forgione, Ileana Driggs, Jillian Minahan, Lia Kamar, Pesach Lichtenberg.

    10. Cultural Diversity and Sameness

    Sarah Kamens, Frederick Wertz, Lia Kamar, Oren Matar, Illeana Driggs, Jillian Minahan Zucchetto, Faith Forgione, Ryan Scanlon & Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat.

    11. Diagnostic Heterogeneities

    Sarah Kamens

    12. Phenomenological and Interdisciplinary Literatures

    Sarah Kamens

    13. Future Directions

    Sarah Kamens, Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat, Mary Beth Quaranta Morrissey, Faith Forgione, Ileana Driggs, Jillian Minahan Zucchetto, Ryan Scanlon, Lia Kamar & Pesach Lichtenberg.

    14. Implications for Cultural and Structural Worlds

    Sarah Kamens & Pesach Lichtenberg


    Sarah Kamens is a clinical psychologist and interdisciplinary researcher whose work focuses on the phenomenology of emotional distress, including the distress that results from structural disparities and psychosocial mar-ginalization. Alongside her colleagues in the Society for Humanistic Society, Dr. Kamens explores possibilities for diagnostic alternatives in the mental health professions.

    'In this work we are provided with a much-needed breadth of approach (and thus a breath of fresh air) to understanding the problem of mental illness. The use of the broad approach including the questions brought by the interest in <<urhomelessness>> all contribute to the considerations so needed in our field.'

    John Strauss, MD, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Yale University

    'In this acute and moving analysis, the authors explore a crucial feature of many who suffer from what has traditionally been termed "schizophrenia": feelings of utter homelessness, of wandering lost and alone in an uncanny world that offers no sense of safety or emotional sustenance. This is a work of deep empathy and marked inconoclasm. It opens new avenues for research and reflection - also for more effective forms of treatment, both in therapy and on a societal level.'

    Louis Sass, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Department of Clincial Psychology; Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) Rutgers University

    'Wide ranging and beautifully written, one of the standout achievements of this phenomenological work is its engagement with culture, both at a more macro level (informants in Israel, Palestine and the US), and in its attention to the nuanced ways in which cultural contexts infuse and shape the experience and existential import of psychosis. Both those who agree and disagree with Kamen's underlying thesis of urhomelessness will find a text rich with insights and provocations positioned to unsettle tired phenomenological tropes and break new ground at the intersections of subjectivie experience, culture and religion, and identity.'

    Nev Jones, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Pitssburgh