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Perceptual disturbances suggested as not a major predictor for psychosis onset

A study published in Schizophrenia research has demonstrated that perceptual disturbances e.g. seeing shadows or hearing knocking noises which are not “real”, are not necessarily predictive symptoms of schizophrenia. 

For the study, the researchers assessed which symptoms were most predictive of psychosis over a two-year follow-up period in a group of 296 individuals at high-risk for psychosis after they had experienced attenuated psychosis symptoms. The analysis revealed that suspiciousness and unusual thought content were the most predictive of psychosis, and that difficulty with focus or concentration and reduced ideational richness further enhanced psychosis risk prediction. Perceptual disturbances, which are considered milder forms of hallucinations, were not major predictors of psychosis.

Suspiciousness and unusual thought content include a feeling of being watched; a feeling that others are talking about you but knowing that this “can’t really be true;” fixating on coincidences that aren’t actually connected; finding “signs” in certain experiences; or having a distorted sense of time. Reduced ideational richness typically refers to difficulty following conversations or engaging in abstract thinking.

This is important for assessing psychosis risk as the study demonstrates that the focus may not be on experienced of perceptual distortion, but instead on issues surrounding paranoia, suspiciousness and unusual thought content.

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By: Abigail Christine Wright
Last updated: Tuesday, 13 October 2015

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