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Schizophr Res. 2013 Jun;147(1):153-6. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.03.012. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Broadly defined risk mental states during adolescence: disorganization mediates positive schizotypal expression.

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Adolescence Clinical Psychology Research Unit, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


While schizotypal features are common during adolescence, they can also signal increased risk for the onset of schizophreniform disorders. Most studies with adolescents find that hallucination and delusion-like symptoms (positive schizotypal features) best predict future psychopathology. Still, the developmental process of positive schizotypy remains elusive, specifically with regards to 1) its relationships to negative and disorganization schizotypal dimensions; 2) its associations to maladaptive functioning during adolescence. This longitudinal study aimed to further characterize these relationships, thereby delineating "early and broadly defined psychosis risk mental states" (Keshavan et al., 2011). The current study presents the 3-year course of schizotypal trait expression in 34 clinical adolescents aged 12 to 18 years consulting for non-psychotic difficulties. Schizotypal expression was assessed twice using the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire, accompanied by an examination of internalizing/externalizing problems using the Achenbach scales. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were conducted to assess the expression and course of schizotypal dimensions; mediation analyses were further employed to highlight the developmental interactions promoting the maintenance of positive schizotypal expression. The results reveal that positive schizotypy, and more specifically unusual perceptual experiences, significantly declined during the study interval. Disorganization features were found to mediate the relationships between the negative and positive dimensions of schizotypy within and across evaluations. Somatic complaints and attentional difficulties further strengthened the expression of positive schizotypy during the study interval. These results suggest that the relationship between disorganization features and positive schizotypy may play a central role in establishing risk for psychosis during adolescence.

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