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March 1974

The Subjective Experience of Perceptual and Cognitive Disturbances in SchizophreniaA Review of Autobiographical Accounts

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis
From the Department of Psychology, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(3):333-340. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760090047008

About 60 autobiographical books and articles written by schizophrenics during or after their psychotic episodes were examined for descriptions of changes in the patients' perceptual and cognitive experiences. Frequently reported perceptual changes included both enhanced and muted sensory awareness and numerous specific auditory and visual disturbances. Often mentioned cognitive experiences included attentional deficits, both racing and retarded thinking, increased associations between ideas, mental exhaustion, lack of recognition of familiar words, people, and objects, memory deficits, thought blocking, disturbances in language production and comprehension, mistaking identities, and distorted sense of time.

The article includes many descriptive quotations that provide rich glimpses into the inner world of the schizophrenic. It presents an argument for the continued, systematic exploration of patients' subjective experiences.