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Compr Psychiatry. 2014 Oct;55(7):1703-11. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.06.013. Epub 2014 Jul 1.

The bodily self: a qualitative study of abnormal bodily phenomena in persons with schizophrenia.

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"G. d'Annunzio" University, Chieti, 66013, Italy; "Diego Portales" University, Santiago, Chile.
Department of Mental Health, Florence, 50125, Italy.
"Carlo Bo" University, Urbino, 61029, Italy.
"G. d'Annunzio" University, Chieti, 66013, Italy. Electronic address:
"G. d'Annunzio" University, Chieti, 66013, Italy.
Department of Mental Health and Pathological Addiction, Reggio Emilia, 42122, Italy.
Kings College Hospital in London and the Institute of Psychiatry, London, WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom.


Subtle anomalies of bodily experience have for long been described as relevant features of schizophrenia spectrum disorders, however such disturbing and alienating experiences are usually neglected in routine clinical examination. The overarching aim of this qualitative study is to offer an experience-close mapping of abnormal bodily phenomena (ABP) in patients with schizophrenia that might assist clinical examination and inform the development of dedicated assessment tools. We followed a stepwise methodology: first, data from n=550 clinical interviews were analyzed adopting consensual qualitative research (CQR) inductive method in order to identify relevant clusters of ABP. Then, ABP profiled in schizophrenia patients (n=301) were contrasted with ABP identified in patients affected by major depression (n=56). 70% of the interviewees in the schizophrenia sample reported anomalies of lived corporeality, that could be condensed in the following categories: Dynamization, Morbid objectivation, Dysmorphic-like phenomena and Pain-like phenomena. Those appeared to be reducible to two core features that were not paralleled in the affective disorder sample: dynamization (e.g. ongoing bodily feelings of disintegration/violation) and thingness/mechanization (e.g. one's body experienced as a object-like mechanism). We suggest that dynamization and thingness/mechanization might be considered schizophrenia-specific experiential phenotypes that can contribute to early differential diagnosis of somatic complaints in mental health help-seekers.

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