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Article
December 1994

Parsing CognitionThe Power of Psychology Paradigms

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Psychology McLean Hospital 115 Mill St Belmont, Mass

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1994;51(12):952-954. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1994.03950120024005
Abstract

THE EARLIEST systematic descriptions of psychotic disorders noted that attention is disturbed in these conditions. Kraepelin,1(p6) for example, wrote that in schizophrenia, there is "a certain unsteadiness of attention" and it is quite difficult for these patients to "keep their attention fixed for any length of time." Kraepelin explained these variations in attention (aufmerksamkeit in German is less ambiguous than attention in English) as manifestations of impaired volition, even a kind of inattention, as it were, and therefore an epiphenomenon of the disorder. Recent explorations of schizophrenic psychopathology, however, strongly suggest that attentional dysfunctions are primary manifestations of the disease process in schizophrenia (as Bleuler2 believed), and that the earliest as well as the later phases of attention are disordered, as exemplified in the studies by Green et al.3,4

The term "phases of attention" requires clarification. Until the middle of the 19th century, scientists believed that

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