Raising awareness of values in the recognition of negative symptoms of schizophrenia

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 3 (2):35-41 (2010)
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Abstract

What we call today negative symptoms are thought to descend from the very deficits that the earliest scholars of schizophrenia (such as Kraepelin and Bleuler) considered to be the key, fundamental symptoms of the disorder. In the latter half of the 20th century, delusions and hallucinations received greater prominence, which eventually changed both the concept of schizophrenia and its diagnostic criteria by placing positive symptoms at the forefront. The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a resurgence of interest in negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Persistent and clinically significant negative symptoms were declared an unmet therapeutic need in a large proportion of cases by several schizophrenia experts, who, with the support of the NIMH, held a consensus development conference in 2005 to discuss negative symptoms and how to proceed in this area. The Consensus Statement read that improved recognition and awareness of negative symptoms are the fi rst step to improving function in patients with negative symptoms of schizophrenia. According to the principles of Values-Based Practice that also means improving recognition and awareness of the diverse values involved in the conceptualization and practical assessment of negative symptoms. By analyzing selected conceptual papers on negative symptoms, instruments developed for the assessment of this area of psychopathology, and clinical vignettes, we intend to point out some values-related issues in the diagnosis of negative symptoms as well as to make the case that these symptoms may be a particularly complex aspect of schizophrenia, vis-à- vis understanding the role played by values.

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