Positive and Negative Symptoms in Psychosis: Description, Research, and Future Directions

By Philip D. Harvey; Elaine E. Walker | Go to book overview

EDITORS INTRODUCTION

Philip D. Harvey, Ph.D. and Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

This volume presents a collection of chapters on varied aspects of psychotic symptoms, largely within the context of positive versus negative symptoms. Our chapters cover a broad range of aspects of these symptoms, such as longitudinal course, cognitive correlates, biochemical and structural correlates, conceptual issues, and research methods. The majority of these chapters were presented at the SUNY-Binghamton/Cornell University conference on schizophrenia that took place on October 17-19, 1985, in Ithaca, NY. That conference was designed to provide a forum for the dissemination of information on psychotic symptoms in general, with the overriding framework of positive versus negative symptoms.

The conference received its impetus from the growing interest in symptom diversity in psychotic patients, most notably schizophrenics. Accumulating evidence from research, particularly that from the perspective of the positive/negative symptom distinction, has suggested that prognosis and premorbid functioning are systematically associated with symptom variables. Other studies indicated that symptom variability is associated with cognitive functioning in schizophrenics. These findings and others suggest that the positive/negative symptom dimension may be highly important, with implications at the level of etiology, course, and prognosis for schizophrenia and, possibly, other disorders. This volume reflects the diversity of perspectives presented at the conference and illustrates the participants views on the future directions of research in the area.

We believe that the most important feature of the present volume is its focus on the study of specific symptoms including such aspects as internal consistency, correlates within the biological and cognitive realms, and intersymptom predictive power. We believe that psychopathology research has been excessively concerned with the correlates of taxon membership, despite the fact that the descriptors of the taxon members have often been vague and unreliable. Even with current, more reliable definitions of taxonomic entities in schizophrenia and affective psychosis, searching for the correlates of taxon membership is inherently of limited utility, because the polythetic nature of taxon definitions guarantees extreme interindividual variability among accurately diagnosed taxon members. Given these concerns, a focus on

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