How does studying schizotypal personality disorder inform us about the prodrome of schizophrenia?
An increasing emphasis in the schizophrenia literature has been on the prodromal phase of the illness. The study of schizophrenia spectrum illness, including schizotypal personality disorder, has added important insight into the etiology, neuropathology, and treatment of schizophrenia, which can facilitate early identification, intervention, and perhaps prevention of the illness. The heterogeneity of the schizophrenia spectrum makes its definition elusive at best. The primary aim of the Cognitive Assessment and Risk Evaluation Program at the authors' institution is to combine the current knowledge of clinical and demographic risk factors for schizophrenia with the rapidly emerging data on vulnerability markers, or endophenotypes, that are associated with schizophrenia. The use of brain-based vulnerability markers may help to identify neurobiologically and clinically meaningful subgroups within this heterogeneous population of individuals in the early stages of schizophrenia. Another important aim of the Cognitive Assessment and Risk Evaluation program is to thoroughly assess those individuals who have not converted to psychosis to understand potential protective factors, reduce the rate of false positives, and decrease disability. The current review details a strategy for researching the schizophrenia prodrome by using information gained from research in schizotypal personality disorder.
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