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Out of mind

Schizophrenic states of mind seem to deny either access or empathy. What does it mean to know how someone else feels?

By Robert Drummond   October 2006

George’s black eye was almost perfectly oval, as if he’d made himself up as a mime artist. He stood there in his flat eerily unmoving and at an uncomfortable-looking angle, frozen somewhere in between meaningful gestures. After a dozen or so meetings, the young psychiatrist visiting him still wasn’t sure exactly what he felt about his patient. Every time something was subtly different. What he felt now was an odd, unprofessional irritation at George’s inability, or refusal, to explain how he had got the black eye.

The young psychiatrist had got to know George a few months earlier, while he…

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