Psychopathological Course Typology in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A Heuristic Approach in a Sample of 100 Patients

Moritz E. Wigand, Fabian U. Lang, Thomas Becker, Thomas G. Schulze, Werner Strik, Markus Jäger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Despite several previous attempts at subtyping schizophrenia, a typology that reflects neurobiological knowledge and reliably predicts course and outcome is lacking. We applied the system-specific concept of the Bern Psychopathology Scale (BPS) to generate a course typology based on three domains: language, affectivity, and motor behaviour. Sampling and Methods: A cohort of 100 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders according to DSM-IV criteria underwent psychopathological assessment, and all their available medical records were retrospectively analysed on the basis of the BPS. Results: Overall, 39% of the patients showed dominant abnormalities in only one domain, 37% in two domains, and 24% in all three domains. The motor domain was affected in the majority of patients (76%), followed by affectivity (63%) and language (46%). Eighty-six percent of patients showed a bipolar course pattern in at least one domain. Conclusions: In a retrospective analysis of 100 patient records we described system-specific course patterns of schizophrenia by using a neurobiologically informed psychopathological assessment. The results showed a surprisingly high proportion of bipolar courses and a pattern of pure and mixed subtypes, which speaks for an overlap of domains with regards to psychopathological symptoms. A limitation of this heuristic and retrospective approach is that it was largely based on clinical judgement. Prospective studies with more rigorous threshold definitions are needed to clarify the neurobiological and clinical implications of the proposed reorganization of psychotic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-405
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bern Psychopathology Scale
  • Bipolar pattern
  • Heuristic approach
  • Schizophrenia
  • Typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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