In philosophy, intentionality involves directedness, aboutness, or reference of mental states. It seems to have intense connections with mental representation, consciousness, as well as evolutionary selected functions. Naturalizing intentionality, in terms of tracking or functional roles, is one of the most important goals in philosophy of mind. Such what-matters models would be useful, employing a combination of the principles of intentionality and causality. For example, the brain contains a seeking system that is responsible for its capacity of having an instinct-like urge towards something or towards wanting. Reward circuits are linked with emotional learning, reward seeking, reward learning, as well as with the homeostatic system and the hedonic system. We may suggest that such brain systems reflect components of a broad intentional system, whereas non-linear dynamics can explain the complex behavior of such chaotic or fuzzy systems. Historically, the cusp catastrophe model has been used to predict health behaviors. It can explain why relatively small changes in a parameter can result in catastrophic changes in the state of a system. If distal risk is low, then proximal risk will be linearly related to psychopathology. If distal risk is high, then proximal risk is nonlinearly related to a severe psychopathology and small changes in proximal risk predict a sudden lapse. The phase of hysteresis can explain how a network stays active long after the events in the external field that triggered its activation have waned. It seems that in psychotic patients there is a failure of intentionality, due to the inappropriateness of an intentional object or connection, or due to the absence of an intentional object altogether. In psychosis, these failures seem to occur through a non-linear and multifactor fluctuating pattern of intentionality. The ultimate goal is to provide a better understanding of relapse. The sudden collapse can be explained by an already fragile intentional system rather than by a novel stressor. The catastrophe model may help individuals remove themselves from a hysteresis cycle, and strategies for sustainable management of such cases should focus on maintaining resilience. Focusing on disruptions of intentionality can deepen and enrich our understanding of radical disturbances involved in different psychopathologies, including psychosis.

KEYWORDS: Intentionality, psychosis, aboutness, directedness, cusp catastrophe model, non-linear modelling.

Orestis Giotakos

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