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Schizophr Res. 1998 Feb 9;29(3):247-54.

Is early adulthood a critical developmental stage for psychosis proneness? A survey of delusional ideation in normal subjects.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University Victor Segalen Bordeaux, France.


It has been hypothesized that late adolescence and early adulthood might be a brain developmental stage favoring the clinical expression of psychotic symptoms in psychiatric or neurological diseases. The aim of the present survey was to examine the relationship between age and delusional ideation in a sample of subjects with no psychiatric disorder. The survey was carried out with the Aquitaine Sentinel Network of general practitioners. Consecutive practice attenders were invited to complete the PDI-21 (Peters Delusional Inventory 21 items), a self-report questionnaire designed to measure delusional ideation in the normal population. The study concerned 444 patients who had no lifetime history of psychiatric disorder and who completed the PDI-21. A principal component analysis of the PDI-21 items was performed in order to identify delusional dimensions. An age-related decrease in the likelihood to report delusional ideas was found, younger subjects scoring higher on most dimensions of delusional ideation, such as 'persecution', 'thought disturbance', 'grandiosity' and 'paranormal beliefs'. 'Religiosity' was the only dimension positively associated with age. The results suggest that there may be a physiological neurodevelopmental stage favouring the expression of psychosis proneness in normal subjects, and support the hypothesis that the association between age and positive psychotic symptoms in functional and organic psychoses may be linked to the interaction between normal brain maturational processes and cerebral abnormalities involved in the aetiology of functional and organic psychoses.

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