Turning the Curse into a Blessing: Using Mindfulness to Reduce Schizophrenia Vulnerability in Psychosis-Prone Individuals

The Fieldrose Charitable Trust PhD Scholarship 2017: Psychology Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London

Supervisor: Professor Paul Chadwick

Research Student:

Start Date: September 2017

Scientific goal: 

To investigate the efficacy of mindfulness-based intervention in psychosis-prone individuals (high positive schizotypy) in reducing the risk factors for schizophrenia (suspiciousness/paranoia), whilst preserving the conditions promoting creativity.

Summary: 

We are all confronted with an overwhelming array of sensory stimuli and are required to filter out what is most useful and salient, and discard unwanted information. Leading theorists have argued that schizophrenia may result in part from an inability to filter information. Yet, having a more open information processing style (i.e. less filtering) has also been linked to creativity and originality of thought, which is both an aesthetic and pragmatic blessing for an individual and society. Indeed, schizophrenia and creativity have been linked by previous research. Antipsychotic medication, the first line of psychosis prevention and treatment, is known to dampen down more open processing in people either with or vulnerable to schizophrenia, potentially reducing conditions promoting creativity in these individuals. Our research on expert meditators showed that mindfulness practice is associated with lower suspiciousness and paranoia (the strongest predictors of subsequent schizophrenia) in the presence of decreased filtering. We will examine if mindfulness training in psychosis-prone individuals reduces schizophrenia vulnerability (suspiciousness/paranoia), whilst preserving decreased filtering thought to underlie heightened creativity.