It is the only time when I don't feel a schism in my soul.

It is the only time when I don't feel a schism of the soul.

Looking at the dictionary meaning (linked), schism seems to have a political or religious context. So can it be used the way it has been in the given sentence? If not, what other words could be used in its place?


I think this a very proper use. Although historically the word entered the English language to signify a division of spiritual or political allegiance, it has been used since the middle of the 19th century with more personal reference:

It is a prejudice, as disastrous as it is unfounded, that there can be a schism between the heart and the intellect, to the advantage of either. -cited in OED 1

Schism suggests something more profound and radical than, say, division or ambivalence.

I prefer schism in, reflecting division or cleft or crack in.

  • Thank you. You mean you prefer "a schism in my soul" to "a schism of the soul"?
    – Soulz
    May 25 '13 at 16:03
  • @Soulz Yes, exactly. May 25 '13 at 16:15
  • OP presumably has his own concept of what a "soul" is, but I can't really conceptualise one as being made up of warring factions. You'd surely need to have some personal awareness of independent consciousnesses / logical positions within your "soul", to feel that they were somehow in (theological?) disagreement with each other. May 25 '13 at 16:39
  • @FumbleFingers "Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach, in meiner Brust"-Goethe. The 'divided consciousness' or 'divided self' has been a primary theme of modernism since Byron, maybe since Rousseau, right down to Laing and Sartre. May 25 '13 at 17:30
  • I can certainly understand how consciousness or self could be described "divided", since I assume we're talking there about something we are actually aware of. I don't often come across people who deny having something you might call consciousness, self. But lots of people don't even accept the existence of a "soul" - even supposing you believed you had one, how could "you" be aware it was experiencing internal conflict? May 25 '13 at 18:06

Schism is when a religious organisation or group splits in two.

Moses led the Jews who schismed from Samaritanism.

The Roman Catholic church were a schismatic offshoot of Orthodox Christianity.

Shi'ite Islam is a schism from Sunni Islam.

Schisms therefore connote a deep and irrevocable fissure, with no hope of repair.

Otherwise, that would be an ecumenical matter, as Father Ted would say.

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