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

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

symptoms may lead to a better understanding of the significance, both within and between current taxon definitions, of a variety of clinical states. The present volume is a sampling of attempts to develop such a focus.

Our view of the positive/negative symptom distinction is that it is a potentially useful theoretical conceptualization and formulation of symptom variables. There is nothing new about the symptoms themselves; they have been recognized in one form or another since the 1880's. Similarly the positive vs. negative distinction has a one hundred year history and was not discovered in the past decade, despite what one might conclude from an examination of the journals in psychology, psychiatry, and other allied fields. What we have attempted to do in this volume is to present a varied set of perspectives on the integrative study of psychotic symptoms, with implications for the validity of the positive/ negative distinction contained therein. We in some sense share John Neale's cautionary perspective, as presented in the afterword, that researchers must avoid jumping on another bandwagon and again pulling old tired findings out of a new set of labels.

This book does not offer definitive conclusions about the utility of the positive/negative symptom frameweork. On the other hand, the diversity of chapters suggests that this framework may be serving as a valuable heuristic function. As a result, we present the volume in that context: the beginning of what may be a long-term research endevour from a variety of perspectives.

The book, like the conference from which it came would not have been possible without the effort of many different people and without grant support. The primary financial support came from the Research Foundation of the State of New York through its grant program "Conversations in the Disciplines". We deeply appreciate that support. We would like to thank all of the conference presenters, attendees, and chapter authors for their cooperation, stimulating presentations, and timely submission of chapters to us. In passing, we should also note that our Ithaca conference' has spawned more than a book. A new organization, the Society for Research in Psychopathology, was developed by the attendees of that conference, and had its first highly interesting meeting one year to the day after the initial conference in Ithaca.

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