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May 1966

Percept Assimilation and Paranoid Severity

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