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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2003 Sep;49(3):166-74.

Interpersonal distance in schizophrenic patients: relationship to negative syndrome.

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  • 1Sha'ar Menashe Mental Health Center, Hadera, Israel.



Personal space is the area individuals maintain around themselves into which others cannot intrude without arousing discomfort.


We tested the hypotheses that psychological distancing of patients with schizophrenia would be a characteristic of 1) diagnosis and/or 2) syndrome.


For this aim, 30 schizophrenic and 30 age matching normal males established comfortable interpersonal distances for 20 word-stimuli representing family members, significant others, self-images, emotionally neutral and threatening surroundings. The distances were assessed by a paper-and-pencil projective measure, the Comfortable Interpersonal Distance scale and the patients' psychopathological symptoms were quantified by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. t-tests and correlational analyses were employed to examine the relationships between the parameters of interest.


The rank order (hierarchy) of preferable interpersonal distances of patients with schizophrenia was similar to that of normal subjects. At the same time, psychological distance from family members and themselves was substantially larger among the patients. There were no significant correlations between any kind of interpersonal distance and positive syndrome of schizophrenia, while negative syndrome showed significant inverse association with distances from emotionally neutral and threatening figures and positive correlation with family member and self-image distances.


The results suggest that the negative syndrome of schizophrenia attenuates the differences between interpersonal distances from generally close and distant persons.

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