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Schizophrenic Process, the Emergence of Consciousness in Recent History and Phenomenological Causality: The Significance for Psychotherapy of Julian Jaynes

Heward Wilkinson
International Journal of Psychotherapy, March 1999, 4 (1): 49-66.

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This paper on Julian Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind illustrates the concept of "phenomenological causality," whose affinity to the Buddhist concept of "co-dependendent origination" is also touched on. Jaynes's work is explored through its relevance to schizophrenic experience. He holds that hallucination was a normal aspect of human decision-making in stress situations until around 1200 BC - the bicameral mind. This does not imply a simple equation of schizophrenic experience and hallucination; for originally there was consensual authorization, now lost, of hallucinatory experience of gods and ancestors. Jaynes has four main hypotheses: bicamerality (the two modes of mentality); the constitution of consciousness; the dating; and brain localization of the different modes of experience. Consciousness replaces bicameral resort to hallucination in situations of stress; it is constituted through metaphor. Schizophrenic experience transforms bicamerality through the shift in consensuality: as alienation, deconstruction of thinking and language, loss of the 'analog' constitution of normal consciousness and self, a fusion of consciousness, and bicameral modes. Breakdowns, loss and transformations of bicamerality and consensual authority are illustrated by the great religious transformers of bicamerality, consciousness and enlightenment. Depth psychotherapy is similarly based in the potential of deep change at the level of grounding causation. A reflexive plurality of ways of being from the emergence of consciousness is now available. The greatness and limitations of Jaynes' evocation of fundamental change are evoked.