Formal DSM Schizophreniform Diagnoses
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The American Psychiatric Association maintains the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which describes criteria necessary for the diagnosis of all mental disorders. Sections of the DSM are written by committees of experts to ensure that the latest science is incorporated, and that common standards for diagnosis are made available to all professionals. Currently, the DSM is in its fourth, text-revised edition (DSM-IV-TR).
The Schizophreniform Spectrum
Though the DSM defines schizophrenia as a discrete (individual) condition characterized by a set of positive and/or negative symptoms lasting for at least six months and including at least one month of active-phase (severe, florid) symptoms, it also embraces the idea that schizophrenia exists as a part of a continuum or spectrum of related conditions that share symptoms in common, and which may share certain underlying causes as well. When viewed as a continuum of schizophreniform disorders, schizophrenia can be seen to range between "normal" at one end (e.g., no schizophrenia present at all), and severe schizophrenia at the other, with most individual cases falling somewhere in the middle of the continuum. Several personality disorder diagnoses that appear to be best thought of as extremely mild schizophreniform problems sit on the continuum close to the 'normal' side of the spectrum. Delusional disorder and schizophreniform disorder occupy a middle position. Finally, schizophrenia itself and a related condition, schizoaffective disorder, occupy the extreme and severe end of the spectrum. These schizophreniform diagnoses are described in some detail in the sections below.
- Schizophreniform Personality Disorders. Personality disorders are chronic psychological disorders that begin in childhood, or by early adulthood at the latest. They are pervasive, negatively affecting people's work, family, and social lives, and causing a great deal of distress, either for the affected people themselves, or for those who are around them. Two personality disorders, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder, share similarities with aspects of schizophrenia, but also differ in important ways.