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Psychotic Symptoms– Time for a New Approach

The Letter, Issue 46, Spring 2011, Pages 39 - 46


Psychotic Symptoms– Time for a New Approach

Mary Cannon, Ian Kelleher and Jack Jenner


Previously-held ideas about the intrinsically pathological nature of hallucinations and delusions are being challenged by findings from epidemiology, neuroimaging and clinical research. Population-based studies show that the prevalence of psychotic symptoms is far greater than had been previously considered. Therefore it may be timely to re-evaluate our perspective on these psychotic symptoms and their meaning in an evolutionary context. These symptoms may hold the key to understanding the persistence of psychosis in the population. We discuss how these findings also have implications for the public perception of stigma and the development of new therapies that directly engage with the psychotic symptoms. These therapies have the potential to increase patient satisfaction with treatment, increase adherence and ultimately lead to better outcomes.

Keywords: psychosis; psychotic symptoms; evolution; hallucinations; psychotherapy

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

Theodosius Dobzhansky[1]

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