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January 1966

Conceptual Thinking in Psychiatric Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry. Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) (Dr. Salzman); Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) (Dr. Goldstein); Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Dr. Atkins); and Instructor in Psychiatry (Dr. Babigian).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;14(1):55-59. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730070057007

STUDIES OF the cognitive aspects of psychopathology have for some time stressed the importance of disturbances of conceptual behavior.2,4,5 The phenomena of "concreteness," "over-inclusiveness," and other forms of disordered conceptualizing have been widely examined and discussed. Particular significance has been attributed to the role of such disturbances of thinking in schizophrenia.6 When questions of differential diagnosis arise, it has become common clinical practice to utilize the criterion of disturbed abstracting abilities as a pathognomonic indicator of a schizophrenic disorder. Brief tests of abstracting abilities, such as the interpretation of proverbs, are commonly included in procedures designed to assess a patient's mental status in the course of the diagnostic study of a patient.12 Much of the empirical justification for this practice derives from studies which tend to demonstrate that the conceptual skills of schizophrenics are different from or inferior to the conceptual abilities of normal nonschizophrenic individuals.5

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