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ISSN: 1935-1232 (P)

ISSN: 1941-2010 (E)

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Abstract

Self-Esteem and Insight as Predictors of Symptom Change in Schizophrenia: A Longitudinal Study

Author(s): Molly A. Erickson, Paul H. Lysaker

Though it is known that symptom profiles in schizophrenia change throughout the course of the illness, it is not yet clear which psychological antecedents predict these changes. The purpose of the present study was to explore “level of insight into mental illness” and “self-esteem” as predictors of positive symptom change in schizophrenia patients. Fiftyseven schizophrenia patients completed assessments of self-esteem, insight into mental illness, positive symptoms and paranoia once every four weeks for a total of eight individual testing sessions. Hierarchical linear regression analysis revealed that changes in self-esteem predicted future changes in paranoia as well as positive symptoms more broadly; decreases in self-esteem at any given time point were associated with an increase in persecutory beliefs and other positive symptoms at the following assessment. On the other hand, decreases in insight were not significantly associated with paranoia or positive symptoms, either as a stable trait of the mental illness or as a predictor of change over time. Taken together, these results suggest that change in self-esteem, but not insight, has a significant and unique association with positive symptoms of schizophrenia, and may be a valuable target for future treatment.