July 1960

Does Time Stand Still For Some Psychotics?

Author Affiliations

Brighton, Mass.
From the Veterans Administration Hospital, Bedford, Mass.; the Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. This study is part of a project supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service (M-1905).
Physician, Veterans Administration Hospital, Bedford, Mass.; Instructor in Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine (Dr. Ehrentheil); Resident in Psychiatry, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School; formerly Physician, Veterans Administration Hospital, Bedford, Mass. (Dr. Jenney).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(1):1-3. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710010003001

In the course of a study of chronically hospitalized psychotics, patients were asked their age. We noticed that some patients answered by stating a much younger age than their chronological one. In checking case histories, we found that the alleged age coincided for some patients with their age at onset of their psychosis. While this phenomenon may be known to experienced psychiatrists, we could not find any specific study of it in the medical literature.

Accordingly, we decided to ask 50 elderly patients, with many years of hospitalization, the simple question, "How old are you?" The patients with the longest hospital residence in three diagnostic groups were chosen for this study. One group consisted of 30 patients with the diagnosis of schizophrenic reaction; all had been hospitalized since 1928 or 1929. These 30 patients had the following subdiagnoses: hebephrenic schizophrenia, 14; catatonic, 8; paranoid, 7, and simple type, 1. The

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