Objective: This study aimed to answer the following questions: 1) Can we reliably measure the psychopathologic dimensions of schizophrenia by using a lifetime frame and by rating acute and interepisode periods separately? 2) Can we reproduce in subjects with familial schizophrenia the characteristic three-factor structure of schizophrenic symptoms that has been found previously in general groups of schizophrenic patients? 3) Is the factor structure also present in familial bipolar disorder?
Method: Lifetime measures of psychotic symptoms were taken through a slightly modified version of the Comprehensive Assessment of Symptoms and History for 138 patients with highly familial DSM-III-R schizophrenia (N = 51), bipolar disorder (N = 44), or spectrum disorders (N = 43). Symptoms were rated separately in the acute episodes and in the stabilized interepisode intervals across the patients' lives.
Results: A satisfactory level of reliability was obtained. In this highly familial study group, the positive/negative factorial distinction was replicated, as was a three-factor model similar to that observed in prior general groups of schizophrenic patients. These factors were also present in bipolar affective disorder. The negative, psychoticism, and disorganized factor model applied more to the acute phase of illness than to the stabilized state.
Conclusions: These findings offer an empirical basis for testing biological or genetic variables in relation to negative/positive symptom dimensions, rather than diagnoses. Observations of a shared structure for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder suggest some continuity in the causes of these disorders.