Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Kenneth Bullmer
The diagnosis of schizophrenia has been considered unreliable, especially when derived by psychiatric interview. Thought disorder is one symptom that has been accepted by most clinicians as a major indicator of schizophrenia. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between thought disorder and the diagnosis of schizophrenia in a state hospital setting.
The sample consisted of 88 patients, 58 males (mean age = 32.0) and 30 females (mean age = 38.6) and was gathered from newly admitted patients in a large state hospital. Thought disorder was measured by the Whitaker Index of Schizophrenic Thinking (WIST) Form A, (Whitaker, 1980). Two diagnostic methods were employed; psychiatric interview utilized by the hospital and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI), (Millon, 1982).
The relationship between WIST scores and the psychotic scales of the MCMI; psychotic thinking (SS), psychotic depression (CC) and psychotic delusions (PP) were examined by calculating correlation coefficients. Significant P < .05 relationships were discovered between the WIST Error scores and the MCMI (SS), and (CC) scales of .36 and .31 respectively. These results suggest a modest relationship exists between two different measures of thought disorder and lends credibility to the idea that thought disorder can be objectively measured.
Six patients were identified as schizophrenic by the MCMI, while 54 were diagnosed as schizophrenic by hospital psychiatrists. Agreement of the diagnosis of schizophrenia occurred in only two cases out of the entire sample. No systematic relationship was discovered between the two methods of diagnosing schizophrenia.
Minor differences were detected in the WIST performance of patients in diagnostic groups generated by the MCMI. No differences in WIST performance were detected between diagnostic groups generated by psychiatric interview. The WIST did not successfully differentiate schizophrenics from non-schizophrenics under either diagnostic method.
It was concluded that the WIST may be best employed as a screening device to measure disordered thinking rather than thinking unique to schizophrenia. Also the diagnosis of schizophrenia appeared to be unreliable by both methods in this study and not related to thought disorder.
Fatzinger, David Frank, "The Relationship between Thought Disorder and the Diagnosis of Schizophrenia" (1984). Dissertations. 2375.