The Violent Content in Attenuated Psychotic Symptoms

Psychiatry Res. 2016 Aug 30:242:61-66. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 May 7.


The relationship between psychosis and violence has typically focused on factors likely to predict who will commit violent acts. One unexplored area is violence in the content of subthreshold positive symptoms. The current aim was to conduct an exploratory analysis of violent content in the attenuated psychotic symptoms (APS) of those at clinical high risk of psychosis (CHR) who met criteria for attenuated psychotic symptom syndrome (APSS). The APS of 442 CHR individuals, determined by the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes, were described in comprehensive vignettes. The content of these symptoms were coded using the Content of Attenuated Positive Symptoms Codebook. Other measures included clinical symptoms, functioning, beliefs and trauma. Individuals with violent content had significantly higher APS, greater negative beliefs about the self and others, and increased bullying. The same findings and higher ratings on anxiety symptoms were present when participants with self-directed violence were compared to participants with no violent content. Individuals reporting violent content differ in their clinical presentation compared to those who do not experience violent content. Adverse life events, like bullying, may impact the presence of violent content in APS symptoms. Future studies should explore violent content in relation to actual behavior.

Keywords: Attenuated psychotic symptoms; Clinical high risk; Violent content.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Bullying
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods
  • Male
  • Prodromal Symptoms
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult