Unusual Perceptual Experiences
Are “Not Always Pathologic”

Kermit Cole
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Psychiatry Research finds that it may not be “anomalous experiences in and of themselves that are pathological, but one’s cognitive interpretation of these aberrant experiences that differentiates between adaptive and pathological progression.”  The authors, from the University of Miami, discovered that anomalous experiences are not necessarily determinative of quality of life or well-being.  Interpersonal factors, negative, disorganized or impulsive features, and “one’s level of certainty in the appraisal of unusual experiences may be more salient in determining the psychopathological relevance of these experiences.”

Article →

Tabak, N., Weisman de Mamani, A; Latent profile analysis of healthy schizotypy within the extended psychosis phenotype. Psychiatry Research. Online September 3, 2013

Of further interest:
Psychotic Experiences ‘not always pathologic’ (Medwire News)
‘Jumping to conclusions’ in first-episode psychosis: A longitudinal study (British Journal of Clinical Psychology)
Attributional biases, paranoia, and depression in early psychosis (British Journal of Clinical Psychology)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

2 COMMENTS

  1. Black Elk was a member of the Lakota tribe. He was present as a young man at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He was a shaman who went to London with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and performed in that debacle for Queen Victoria. He had visions of how the First Nations People would be decimated and enslaved by White society. He was a great “seer” for our people and tried to give strength to us as the beginning of the enslavement began. He died in the 1930’s.

    I’m sure that under the DSM-5 he would be classified as “psychotic” and “schizophrenic” and would have been locked up in one of the horrible “psychiatric hospitals for Indians” that the United States government built and maintained. Luckily, he escaped the clutches of the psychiatric community and died peacefully in his sleep in his own house on the terrible reservation.

  2. Some people who hear their own thoughts as alien voices in response to non-verbal environmental sounds are definitely just like me able to generate the perception of an external voice “that retain certain acoustic features that were present in the original signal” and what if each and every one of us are able to use covert speech to generate the perception of an external voice “that retain certain acoustic features that were present in the original signal” when we need to restore and better distinguish a verbal message?

    To frequently reward a behavior which generates the exposure to stimulus (non-verbal) – stimulus (verbal) contingencies when you with a short delay are able to restore a verbal message or interpret what subjectively seems to be a verbal message can establish or maintain a tendency to interpret what people normally ignore!

    Any signal that consistently precedes a meal, such as a clock indicating that it is time for dinner or an appetizer, may cause us to feel hungrier than before the signal because we learn to expect a meal in response to CS and non-verbal environmental sounds that consistently precedes a verbal illusion (information) can like any signal that consistently precedes a meal become a conditioned reinforcer that can activate a drive representation D. What you learn to expect in response to a signal that consistently precedes a reinforcer can motivate an operant behavior which has been established and fine tuned because it satisfies the need to access what you learn to expect.

    What can increase the exposure to stimulus (non-verbal) – stimulus (verbal) contingencies like these?

    What will make it necessary to restore a verbal message (the exposure to noise and some hearing impairments), what will increase the exposure to more ambiguous voices (some urban environments), what may increase the need to access a verbal message (sensory deprivation, traumatic events, solitude or whatever gives you the sense of not belonging in a social context) and what will diminish our ability to generate an act of will with which we are able to consciously control covert speech with regards to a certain goal (sleep deprivation and stress).

    Can the exposure to stimulus (non-verbal) – stimulus (verbal) contingencies (classical conditioning) like these have such a profound effect that some people develop a mental illness?

    “Non-clinical populations usually experience voices with a neutral or even positive emotional content” while those who are diagnosed with schizophrenia more often experience voices expressed with a negative emotional content!

    I have tried to understand why some people do rather well while others are diagnosed with a mental illness in the light of the assumption that people who experience voices expressed with a neutral or even positive emotional content are trying to hear the voice they are about to produce while those who experience voices expressed with a negative emotional content are trying to avoid the voice they are about to produce by paying more attention to what they are able to hear more objectively.

    From my post in lingforum.com

    Post subject: Speech perception and some symptoms of schizophrenia

    http://www.lingforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=512