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Schizophr Bull. 2011 Sep;37(5):1017-26. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbq008. Epub 2010 Feb 22.

The silent side of the spectrum: schizotypy and the schizotaxic self.

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Danish National Research Foundation: Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The identification of individuals carrying unexpressed genetic liability to schizophrenia is crucial for both etiological research and clinical risk stratification. Subclinical psychopathological features detectable in the nonpsychotic part of the schizophrenia spectrum could improve the delineation of informative vulnerability phenotypes. Inspired by Meehl's schizotaxia-schizotypy heuristic model, we tested anomalous subjective experiences (self-disorders, SDs) as a candidate vulnerability phenotype in a sample of nonpsychotic, genetically high-risk subjects. A total of 218 unaffected members of 6 extended multiplex families (assessed between 1989 and 1999 during the Copenhagen Schizophrenia Linkage Study) were stratified into 4 groups of increasing psychopathological expressivity: no mental illness (NMI), no mental illness with schizotypal traits (NMI-ST), personality disorders not fulfilling other personality disorders (OPDs), and schizotypal personality disorder (SPD). We tested the distribution of SDs among the subgroups, the effect of SDs on the risk of belonging to the different subgroups, and the effect of experimental grouping and concomitant psychopathology (ie, negative symptoms (NSs) and subpsychotic formal thought disorder [FTD]) on the chances of experiencing SDs. SDs distribution followed an incremental pattern from NMI to SPD. SDs were associated with a markedly increased risk of NMI-ST, OPDs, or SPD. The odds of SDs increased as a function of the diagnostic category assignment, independently of sociodemographics and concomitant subclinical psychopathology (NSs and FTD). The results support SDs as an expression of schizotaxic vulnerability and indicate a multidimensional model of schizotypy--characterized by SDs, NSs, FTD--as a promising heuristic construct to address liability phenotypes in genetically high-risk studies.

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