Theory of Mind in a 'Treatment Resistant' Schizophrenia Sample Detained in a Special Hospital: Its Relationship to Symptom Profiles and Neuropsychological Tests

Murphy, David (1999). Theory of Mind in a 'Treatment Resistant' Schizophrenia Sample Detained in a Special Hospital: Its Relationship to Symptom Profiles and Neuropsychological Tests. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00010241

Abstract

The understanding that others have beliefs or mental states different from our own is described as ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM). ToM deficits may explain some symptoms of schizophrenia'. However, there are few investigations of the occurrence of ToM deficits in schizophrenia patients, and none in a forensic setting. There is also the question of ToM’s independence from other cognitive abilities.

This study compares ToM abilities in a sample of ‘treatment resistant’ patients diagnosed with schizophrenia (TRS) and patients diagnosed with a personality disorder (PD controls) resident in an English Special Hospital. Using a ToM task, no significant differences were found between groups in first order ToM (appreciation that another may have a false belief about the state of the world). However, the TRS sample were significantly more impaired in second order ToM (appreciation that another may have a false belief about the mental-state of another individual) than PD controls. Patients with predominantly behavioural signs symptoms performed significantly worse than other symptom groups.

Comparisons between second order ToM performance and functioning on conventional cognitive tasks suggested significant relationships between second order ToM and general intellectual functioning, and delayed recall of prose and designs. Although no significant relationships were found between second order ToM and immediate recall of prose and designs, organisation and planning, there was with the ability to shift thinking from one concept to another.

Following a summary of the results, some methodological limitations of the study are discussed, along with theoretical and clinical implications and possible future research.

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