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A Change of Mind

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A Change of Mind

Scientists are Learning to Predict Psychosis Years in Advance – and Possibly Prevent it


5 min read
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Psychiatrists are now trying to predict and prevent the most intractable mental illness – psychosis.

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Early in her career, psychologist Rachel Loewy observed a disheartening contrast between two related populations. In interviews, teens with schizotypal personality disorder were “lucid and self-aware” enough to coherently describe their experiences. Middle-aged people with full-blown schizophrenia, however, could no longer have a normal conversation. If medical doctors attempt to predict and prevent diabetes, she wondered, shouldn’t psychologists do the same with schizophrenia? This article is an important resource for those interested in improving prognoses for psychiatric disease.


Early treatment improves long-term prognoses for people with schizophrenia.

Researchers have discovered precursors to schizophrenia. An awareness of these precursors could help patients and caregivers recognize an impending psychotic break. Recognizing the signs is important because patients face a better prognosis if they’re immediately treated with anti-psychotics.

The NAPLS (North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study) has made a risk calculator available online for assessing vulnerable patients. Concerned caregivers might also ask, “Are you hearing anything that is unusual, or having ...

About the Author

Jennifer Couzin-Frankel covers biomedical and clinical research, scientific misconduct, and ethics for Science.

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