Common psychotic symptoms can be explained by the theory of ecological perception

Golembiewski, Jan Alexander (2012) Common psychotic symptoms can be explained by the theory of ecological perception. Medical Hypotheses, 78(1), pp. 7-10.

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The symptoms of psychiatric illness are diverse, as are the causes of the illnesses that cause them. Yet, regardless of the heterogeneity of cause and presentation, a great deal of symptoms can be explained by the failure of a single perceptual function – the reprocessing of ecological perception.

It is a central tenet of the ecological theory of perception that we perceive opportunities to act. It has also been found that perception automatically causes actions and thoughts to occur unless this primary action pathway is inhibited. Inhibition allows perceptions to be reprocessed into more appropriate alternative actions and thoughts. Reprocessing of this kind takes place over the entire frontal lobe and it renders action optional. Choice about what action to take (if any) is the basis for the feeling of autonomy and ultimately for the sense-of-self. When thoughts and actions occur automatically (without choice) they appear to originate outside of the self, thereby providing prima facie evidence for some of the bizarre delusions that define schizophrenia such as delusional misidentification, delusions of control and Cotard’s delusion.

Automatic actions and thoughts are triggered by residual stimulation whenever reprocessing is insufficient to balance automatic excitatory cues (for whatever reason). These may not be noticed if they are neutral and therefore unimportant whereas actions and thoughts with a positive bias are desirable. Responses to negative stimulus, on the other hand, are always unwelcome, because the actions that are triggered will carry the negative bias.

Automatic thoughts may include spontaneous positive feelings of love and joy, but automatic negative thoughts and visualisations are experienced as hallucinations. Not only do these feel like they emerge from elsewhere but they carry a negative bias (they are most commonly critical, rude and are irrationally paranoid).

Automatic positive actions may include laughter and smiling and these are welcome. Automatic behaviours that carry a negative bias, however, are unwelcome and like hallucinations, occur without a sense of choice. These include crying, stereotypies, perseveration, ataxia, utilization and imitation behaviours and catatonia.

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ID Code: 85105
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Perception, Psychosis, Symptoms, Negative signs, Ecological theory, Designed environment, Design, Inhibition, Excitation, Schizophrenia
DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.09.029
ISSN: 1532-2777
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology Psychopharmacology Physiological Psychology) (170101)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Theoretical Biology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Medical Hypotheses, Volume 78, Issue 1, 2012. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.09.029
Deposited On: 02 Jul 2015 22:58
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2017 03:25

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