Reconceptualizing Schizophrenia: The Phenomenology of Urhomelessness, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reconceptualizing Schizophrenia

The Phenomenology of Urhomelessness, 1st Edition

By Sarah Kamens


288 pages

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Hardback: 9780367151713
pub: 2019-05-30
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This volume presents a novel, international research study that reconceptualizes schizophrenia through an investigation of ways in which the first-hand, lived 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.

Table of Contents

List of Tables & Figures

List of Contributors



Foreword - John Strauss

Introduction - Sarah Kamens

Chapter 1: Psychiatric Diagnosis in History – Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

Chapter 2: The Emergence of the "Schizophrenia" Diagnosis: Conventional, Cross-Cultural, and Alternative Approaches - Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

Chapter 3: Phenomenological Accounts - Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

Chapter 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

Chapter 5: Urhomelessness as a Way of Being-in-the-World – Sarah Kamens, Frederick Wertz, Ryan Scanlon, Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat, Jillian Minahan, Faith Forgione, Ileana Driggs, Lia Kamar, Katherine Sullivan, Caroline Silva, Oren Matar, & Mary Beth Quaranta Morrissey

Chapter 6: Wandering in Exile: The Nomadic Manifestation – Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

Chapter 7: Imaginal and Ideal Home: The Settled Manifestation – Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

Chapter 8: Impossibility of Shelter: The Destitute Manifestation – Sarah Kamens & Frederick Wertz

Chapter 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

Chapter 10: Cultural Diversity and Sameness – Sarah Kamens, Frederick Wertz, Lia Kamar, Oren Matar, Ileana Driggs, Jillian Minahan, Faith Forgione, Ryan Scanlon & Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat

Chapter 11: Diagnostic Heterogeneities – Sarah Kamens

Chapter 12: Phenomenological and Interdisciplinary Literatures – Sarah Kamens

Chapter 13: Future Directions – Sarah Kamens, Jessica Yisca Baris Ginat, Mary Beth Quaranta Morrissey, Faith Forgione, Ileana Driggs, Jillian Minahan, Ryan Scanlon, Lia Kamar & Pesach Lichtenberg

Chapter 14: Implications for Cultural and Structural Worlds – Sarah Kamens & Pesach Lichtenberg

Appendix: Qualifications and Distinctions Concerning the Definition of Urhomelessness



About the Author

Sarah Kamens is an interdisciplinary researcher and Visiting Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University, USA.

About the Series

The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series

ISPS (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis) has a history stretching back more than five decades, during which it has witnessed the relentless pursuit of biological explanations for psychosis. This tide has been turning in recent years and there is growing international interest in a range of psychological, social and cultural factors that have considerable explanatory traction and distinct therapeutic possibilities. Governments, professional groups, people with personal experience of psychosis and family members are increasingly exploring interventions that involve more talking and listening. Many now regard practitioners skilled in psychological therapies as an essential component of the care of people with psychosis.

A global society active in at least twenty countries, ISPS is composed of a diverse range of individuals, networks and institutional members. Key to its ethos is that individuals with personal experience of psychosis, and their families and friends, are fully involved alongside practitioners and researchers, and that all benefit from this collaboration.

ISPS’s core aim is to promote psychological and social approaches to understanding and treating psychosis. Recognising the humanitarian and therapeutic potential of these perspectives, ISPS embraces a wide spectrum of therapeutic approaches from psychodynamic, systemic, cognitive, and arts therapies, to need-adapted and dialogical approaches, family and group therapies and residential therapeutic communities. A further ambition is to draw together diverse viewpoints on psychosis and to foster discussion and debate across the biomedical and social sciences, including establishing meaningful dialogue with practitioners and researchers who are more familiar with biological-based approaches. Such discussion is now increasingly supported by empirical evidence of the interaction of genes and biology with the emotional and social environment especially in the fields of trauma, attachment, social relationships and therapy.

Ways in which ISPS pursues its aims include international and national conferences, real and virtual networks, and publication of the journal Psychosis. The book series is intended to complement these activities by providing a resource for those wanting to consider aspects of psychosis in detail. It now also includes a monograph strand primarily targeted at academics. Central to both strands is the combination of rigorous, in-depth intellectual content and accessibility to a wide range of readers. We aim for the series to be a resource for mental health professionals of all disciplines, for those developing and implementing policy, for academics in the social and clinical sciences, and for people whose interest in psychosis stems from personal or family experience. We hope that the book series will help challenge excessively biological ways of conceptualising and treating psychosis through the dissemination of existing knowledge and ideas and by fostering new interdisciplinary dialogues and perspectives.

For more information about ISPS, email or visit our website,  

For more information about the journal Psychosis visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health