Flight of Ideas or Flight from Ideas? A Schelerian Contribution to the Symptomatology of “Flight of Ideas”


  • Alexander Nicolai Wendt




Flight of Ideas, Thought Disorder, Psychology of Thought, Phenomenology, Phenomenological Psychopathology


In psychiatric symptomatology, “flight of ideas” is commonly understood as a symptom of a formal thought disorder which is typical for bipolar illnesses. Notwithstanding, there is a historical controversy that preceded this classification. Neither the nature nor the meaning of the symptom is self-explanatory. Psychology of thought, especially in the works of Hugo Liepmann and Oswald Külpe, has tried to grasp its actual complexity. Yet, they could not advance beyond the presuppositions of their own psychological paradigm. The recently proposed Schelerian psychopathology, however, may help to solve these long-lived problems. Instead of investigating thought as a monolithic phenomenon, Schelerian philosophy reveals its pre-reflective constitution. This investigation amounts to the emotional phenomenology of the ordo amoris as a structure of primordial affectivity. It plays a decisive role in the formation of the order which underlies thought and, consequently, of the disorder of “flight of ideas”.