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Article
April 1975

The Spectrum Concept of SchizophreniaProblems for Diagnostic Practice

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of Psychology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(4):489-498. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760220101010
Abstract

The spectrum concept of schizophrenia posits that a number of psychopathologic states, both psychotic and nonpsychotic, may share some genetic basis with schizophrenia, and may therefore constitute, together with schizophrenia itself, a genetic spectrum of schizophrenic disorders.

While this is a valuable and promising research concept, its application to diagnostic practice could broaden the boundaries of schizophrenia to include patients with other conditions, thus rendering a larger population at risk for the untoward effects of the schizophrenia diagnosis itself. This may have already occurred in the Soviet Union, where a diagnostic system derived from a variant of the spectrum concept is used in routine diagnostic practice.

The adoption of a spectrum-based diagnostic system should await further research on the boundaries of the spectrum, and more detailed descriptions of confirmed spectrum states.

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