The relation between emotional awareness and hallucinations and delusions in acute psychiatric inpatients

Mark Serper, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although negative affect has been frequently implicated in the formation of cognitive and perceptual disturbances ranging from odd perceptions and beliefs to delusions and hallucinations it represents only one of the many aspects of emotional disturbances that may contribute to psychopathology. Surprisingly, no past research has examined in a psychiatric sample whether levels of cognitive-perceptual symptoms are associated with levels of emotional awareness (i.e., attention to emotion and clarity of emotion). In the present study we examined, in an acute psychiatric inpatient sample, the relations between emotional awareness and the severity of delusions and hallucinations. Method: Two groups were included: 34 schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disordered inpatients and 30 mood and substance use disordered inpatients. Patients were assessed on emotional awareness (attention to emotion and emotional clarity) and severity of psychiatric symptomatology. Results: We found that lower levels of emotional clarity were associated with more severe hallucination ratings in both groups of patients. Among schizophrenia spectrum patients, lower levels of attention to emotion were also associated with more severe hallucination ratings. Among mood/substance disorder participants, higher levels of attention to emotion were associated with more severe delusion ratings, whereas the opposite pattern was found among schizophrenia spectrum participants. Conclusions: Consistent with the results of past research using college and community samples, we found that diminished emotional clarity is associated with elevated levels of hallucinations in both mood disorder/substance abuse and schizophrenia spectrum inpatients. We also found that greater attention to emotion was associated with more severe delusions, though only among the mood disorder/substance use group. The present research findings support the role of emotional awareness in hallucination formation and suggest that the factors that contribute to delusions in schizophrenia spectrum patients differ, in part, from the factors that contribute to delusion formation in other groups of individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Delusions
  • Emotional awareness
  • Hallucinations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

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