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Schizophr Res. 2010 Jun;119(1-3):258-65. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 26.

Psychotic-like experiences and correlation with distress and depressive symptoms in a community sample of adolescents and young adults.

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Department of Psychiatry, School of Early Intervention in Psychosis, Sapienza University, via Casal dei Pazzi 16, 00156 Rome Italy.



Studies conducted in community samples indicate that psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) are common in the general population; it has been suggested that such experiences are either variations in normal personality or different expressions of vulnerability to psychotic disorders. The aim of this study was to determine whether different subtypes of PLEs could be identified in a community sample of adolescents and young adults, and to investigate whether particular subtypes of PLEs were more likely to be associated with psychosocial difficulties, i.e. distress, depression and poor functioning, than other subtypes.


1882 students from high schools and universities participated in a cross-sectional multisite survey that measured i) PLEs using the Positive Scale of the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE), ii) depression and distress using the CAPE Depression and Distress Subscales, and iii) functioning using the General Health Questionnaire-12. Factor analysis was conducted to identify any subtypes of PLEs.


Four subtypes of PLEs were identified: bizarre experiences (BE), perceptual abnormalities (PA), persecutory ideas (PI) and grandiosity (GR). Intermittent, infrequent psychotic experiences were common, whereas frequent experiences were not. BE and PI were strongly associated with distress, depression and poor functioning. PA and GR were associated with these variables to a lesser degree.


Different subtypes of PLEs were identified in this large sample, confirming the findings of our previous studies. These subtypes seem to have different psychopathological meaning and may therefore indicate different levels of risk of severe psychiatric disorders, which suggests it is misleading to define PLEs as a homogenous entity.

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