Looking within: Interoceptive sensibility in young adults with psychotic-like experiences

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2021 Dec;15(6):1705-1712. doi: 10.1111/eip.13117. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Aim: Interoception is the ability to sense internal bodily changes and research indicates that it may play a role in the development of mental illness. In recent years, preliminary evidence has shown that interoception is impaired in people with psychosis. Interoceptive sensibility, a meta-cognitive aspect of interoception, has never been studied across the psychosis continuum. The present study aimed at assessing interoceptive sensibility in youth with psychotic-like experiences.

Method: We invited a sample of young adults (N = 609; age 19-21 years) to complete an online survey that included a measure of interoceptive sensibility (the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness-2) and the Community Assessment of Psychotic Experiences-Positive Scale -15 (CAPE-P15). Using the recommended cutoff for the CAPE-P15, the overall sample was divided into two groups (high/low risk for psychosis).

Results: Significant group differences were observed in several dimensions of interoceptive sensibility. A logistic regression analysis indicated that scores in the subscales of Not-Distracting, Not-Worrying, Attention-Regulation, Emotional Awareness, Body Listening, and Trusting significantly predicted increased risk for psychosis.

Conclusion: Abnormal interoceptive sensibility may be a vulnerability marker for psychosis. These results, however, await further validation from additional comprehensive, longitudinal studies. Enhanced interoceptive sensibility has been reported following contemplative training, thus creating opportunities for future interventions to delay or prevent psychotic illness.

Keywords: PLEs; interoception; psychosis; psychotic-like experiences; schizophrenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Awareness / physiology
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Interoception* / physiology
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Young Adult