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Clin Psychol Rev. 2001 Nov;21(8):1125-41.

The continuity of psychotic experiences in the general population.

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  • 1University of Manchester, UK.


Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that affects 1% of the population. The diagnosis is made according to current diagnostic systems of DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and ICD-10 (World Health Association, 1992) on the basis of characteristic 'positive' and 'negative' symptoms. The traditional medical model assumes a categorical view of the schizophrenia syndrome and its core symptoms, in which differences between psychotic symptoms and their normal counterparts are considered to be qualitative. An alternative, dimensional approach assumes that schizophrenia is not a discrete illness entity, but that psychotic symptoms differ in quantitative ways from normal experiences and behaviours. This paper reviews evidence for the continuity of psychotic symptoms with normal experiences, focusing on the symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. It concludes by discussing the theoretical and treatment implications of such a continuum.

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