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May 1966

Percept Assimilation and Paranoid Severity

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry (Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic) of The New York Hospital and Cornell University Medical College.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;14(5):491-496. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730110043006

INCREASED attention has recently been given to cognitive performance in paranoid individuals.1-4 The existence of delusional or false beliefs in people who have relatively intact intellectual and perceptual equipment invites inquiry into the intermediate steps which lead from informational input to hypothesis-formation or, rejection.

McReynolds has offered an interesting model for one aspect of the process of delusion-formation in his theory of "unassimilated percepts."5 According to this theory, anxiety is a function of the magnitude of unassimilated percepts, and the perceptual process itself is governed by the economic principle of keeping anxiety to a minimum. It might be added that a percept is assimilated when it is judged to be a confirming instance of a belief or hypothesis. The belief in turn aspires to internal consistency with the individual's total belief system. In this scheme, delusional beliefs are formed to reduce anxiety. They do

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