Phenomenology and delusions: Who put the 'alien' in alien control?

Elisabeth Pacherie*, Melissa Green, Tim Bayne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Although current models of delusion converge in proposing that delusions are based on unusual experiences, they differ in the role that they accord experience in the formation of delusions. On some accounts, the experience comprises the very content of the delusion, whereas on other accounts the delusion is adopted in an attempt to explain an unusual experience. We call these the endorsement and explanationist models, respectively. We examine the debate between endorsement and explanationist models with respect to the 'alien control' delusion. People with delusions of alien control believe that their actions and/or thoughts are being controlled by an external agent. Some accounts of alien control (e.g., Frith, Blakemore, & Wolpert, 2000a) are best thought of in explanationist terms; other accounts (e.g., Jeannerod, 1999) seem more suited to an endorsement approach. We argue that recent cognitive and neurophysiological evidence favours an endorsement model of the delusion of alien control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-577
Number of pages12
JournalConsciousness and cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


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