The Role of Schizotypy in the Study of the Etiology of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders.

Neus Barrantes-Vidal, Phillip Grant and Thomas R. Kwapil. Schizophrenia Bulletin vol. 41 suppl. no. 2 pp. S408–S416, 2015


Schizotypy provides a useful construct for understanding the development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. As research on the epidemiology of psychotic symptoms and clinical risk for psychosis has expanded, conceptual challenges have emerged to comprehend the nature and borders of the space comprised between personality variation and psychosis. Schizotypy is considered in light of these more recent constructs. It is suggested that rather than being superseded by them due to their higher specificity and predictive power for transition to psychosis, schizotypy integrates them as it constitutes a dynamic continuum ranging from personality to psychosis. The advantages of schizotypy for studying schizophrenia etiology are discussed (eg, it facilitates a developmental approach and the identification of causal, resilience, and compensating factors and offers a multidimensional structure that captures etiological heterogeneity). An overview of putative genetic, biological, and psychosocial risk factors is presented, focusing on communalities and differences between schizotypy and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The found notable overlap supports etiological continuity, and, simultaneously, differential findings appear that are critical to understanding resilience to schizophrenia. For example, discrepant findings in genetic studies might be interpreted as suggestive of sets of independent genetic factors playing a differential role in schizotypy and schizophrenia: some would influence variation specifically on schizotypy dimensions (ie, high vs low schizotypy, thereby increasing proneness to psychosis), some would confer unspecific liability to disease by impacting neural properties and susceptibility to environmental factors (ie, high vs low resilience to disorder) and some might contribute to disease–specific characteristics. Finally, schizotypy’s promise for studying gene-environment interactions is considered.

Keywords: psychotic-like experiences/psychosis/psychosis proneness/risk factors/genetics /environment