Schizophrenia patients with high intelligence: A clinically distinct sub-type of schizophrenia?

Eur Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;30(5):628-32. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2015.02.007. Epub 2015 Mar 6.


Background: Schizophrenia patients are typically found to have low IQ both pre- and post-onset, in comparison to the general population. However, a subgroup of patients displays above average IQ pre-onset. The nature of these patients' illness and its relationship to typical schizophrenia is not well understood. The current study sought to investigate the symptom profile of high-IQ schizophrenia patients.

Methods: We identified 29 schizophrenia patients of exceptionally high pre-morbid intelligence (mean estimated pre-morbid intelligence quotient (IQ) of 120), of whom around half also showed minimal decline (less than 10 IQ points) from their estimated pre-morbid IQ. We compared their symptom scores (SAPS, SANS, OPCRIT, MADRS, GAF, SAI-E) with a comparison group of schizophrenia patients of typical IQ using multinomial logistic regression.

Results: The patients with very high pre-morbid IQ had significantly lower scores on negative and disorganised symptoms than typical patients (RRR=0.019; 95% CI=0.001, 0.675, P=0.030), and showed better global functioning and insight (RRR=1.082; 95% CI=1.020, 1.148; P=0.009). Those with a minimal post-onset IQ decline also showed higher levels of manic symptoms (RRR=8.213; 95% CI=1.042, 64.750, P=0.046).

Conclusions: These findings provide evidence for the existence of a high-IQ variant of schizophrenia that is associated with markedly fewer negative symptoms than typical schizophrenia, and lends support to the idea of a psychosis spectrum or continuum over boundaried diagnostic categories.

Keywords: Cognitive function; IQ; Psychosis; Schizophrenia; Superphrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Schizophrenia / classification*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology