Paola Pennisi Antonino Bucca

The communicative context in Autism Spectrum Disorder and schizophrenia. Between neurolinguistics, neuropragmatics and psychopathology

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Recently, a part of research in pragmatics has been focused on neurolinguistics and neuropragmatics. Since it is believed that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia represent the most vital core of neuropragmatics and clinical pragmatics research (Cummings, 2009; 2017; Bambini, 2010), we will review and discuss the neuropragmatic literature on these clinical cases. Therefore, the philosophical implications of the recent debate on the role of temporo-parietal junction in Theory of Mind (ToM) will be discussed. Some scholars hypothesized that humans usually exercise a sort of mental state integration through inferential processes that are specific for mental phenomena (Saxe, Baron Cohen, 2006) and that probably this ability is damaged in patients with ASD (Charman, Baron-Cohen, 1992; Leslie, Thaiss, 1992; Pennisi, 2016b) and schizophrenia (Lee et al., 2011). Trough the discussion of studies on theory of mind we will problems raised by neuropragmatics. Specifically, for example, ASD seems to negatively impact the linguistic integration of the context in the disambiguation of meaning, but not the intuition of the other’s intention. Although neurolinguistics and/or neuropragmatic studies seem to show that the schizophrenic subject is incapable of understanding and using irony, sarcasm and generally has difficulty in figurative language – as we will try to show in this essay – the letters written by the patients or their poetic productions show a different reality. Probably, in psychotic language cases, the problem is to consider schizophrenia without its delusional-hallucinatory context. So, it seems necessary that neuropragmatics and clinical pragmatics should better consider the schizophrenic communicative context: therefore, also that of delusion and hallucinations.


  • neurolinguistics
  • neuropragmatics
  • ASD
  • schizophrenic speech
  • delusional-hallucinatory context


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