Alive but not well: the limited validity but continued utility of the concept of schizophrenia

Psychol Med. 2018 Jan;48(2):245-246. doi: 10.1017/S0033291717001969. Epub 2017 Oct 26.


Guloksuz & van Os boldly challenge the status quo as pertains to schizophrenia. In 'The Slow Death of the Concept of Schizophrenia, and the Painful Birth of the Psychosis Spectrum' (Guloksuz & van Os, 2017) they thoughtfully review long-standing concerns about this diagnostic category and present a new conceptualization. The authors question the validity of the schizophrenia concept citing variable clinical outcomes, transdiagnostic manifestations of psychosis, and the difficulty in identifying biomarkers, among other concerns. They also point toward the over-representation of schizophrenia in the psychosis literature and lament that patients and clinicians have come to associate this illness with predominantly poor outcomes. Finally, they propose removing the diagnosis of schizophrenia from the diagnostic nomenclature and instituting a broad new classification system, 'psychosis spectrum disorder' (PSD), to capture the many manifestations of psychosis. In this commentary, we advise against the institution of a psychosis spectrum due to the potential negative effects this framework would have on clinical care and progress in biological research.

Keywords: DSM; Psychosis spectrum; diagnosis; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Psychotic Disorders / classification*
  • Research Personnel
  • Schizophrenia / classification*