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March 1968

Attention and Speech in Acute Schizophrenia: An Experimental Study

Author Affiliations

From the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston, and the Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;18(3):373-381. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740030117013

IN ONE OF Bleuler's numerous examples of the associational defect in schizophrenia, he quotes a woman patient who has just returned from a walk with her family:

(She) began with enumerating the members of her family, "Father, Son," then adding, "and the Holy Ghost." She then proceeded to tack on "the Holy Virgin."1

This paper explores the nature of the defect that allows the patient with schizophrenia to slip so easily out of the context in which he began to speak.

In the past several years there has been increasing interest in altered mechanisms of attention in schizophrenia. (By attention, we mean "selectivity in what is responded to, or sensory selectivity.")2 Theoreticians, such as Lang and Buss,3 Maher,4 and Venables5 have attempted to explain this Psychological alteration of attention in terms of neurophysiological changes in cortical arousal caused by the autonomic

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