What is Negative Schizophrenia?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2019
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Negative schizophrenia refers to a set of normal behaviors that may be absent in some sufferers of this disease. It’s contrasted with positive symptoms of schizophrenia, which are more familiar to many, and include behaviors like delusional thinking, hallucinations, made up words, and a series of expressive activities that deviate from normal behavior. Not all sufferers of negative schizophrenia symptoms are as easy to recognize, and not all people have these negative symptoms. When a schizophrenic does have these symptoms to a significant degree, it represents extreme challenges because the symptoms tend not to respond as well to traditional drug treatments.

Suffering from any form of negative schizophrenia may mean the affected person lacks normal responses in several key areas. The most noted of these is a lack of affect (affective flattening) or average emotional and physical response in most settings. Some examples of affective flattening include monotonal voice, facial expressions that lack emotional engagement, extremely subdued body language, and absence of gesturing or meaningless gestures. Given good or bad news, the person with negative schizophrenia may seem to have little “normal” response to it.


Negative schizophrenia may also be characterized by a reduced ability to pursue goals, even small ones. This lack of goal-directed behavior, called avolition, tends to lead to full social withdrawal, where social interaction is not sought or desired. Instead, it’s not unusual for someone with this disorder to continue the same activities, such as watching television all of the time, while seeming to express no interest in anyone or in engaging in other activities.

Another thing noted is a paucity of speech or alogia. Schizophrenics of this type may gradually speak less frequently and become less fluent over time. Their replies to other people’s inquiries don’t always make sense and are usually very short.

Other features of negative schizophrenia can include catatonic body and speech reactions. The environment and people in it may be partially or totally ignored and speech or movement lessens. Self-care tends to decrease as well.

With the positive signs of schizophrenia, the gold standard treatment is typical or atypical antipsychotic meds, along with therapy. Negative schizophrenia doesn’t respond well to typical antipsychotics, though atypical psychiatric medicines are somewhat more successful. It’s hard to initiate any form of talk therapy with someone with negative schizophrenia symptoms because they may not engage at all with the therapist, though some studies suggest this is, nevertheless, a vital part of recovery.

Some doctors express concern that treating physicians might not pursue other treatments for negative schizophrenia because its behaviors are self-contained. A calm, non-reactive patient might be an improvement over someone with outward and positive manifestations of the illness. Doctors argue that flattened affect, some elements of catatonia, alogia, and avolition may be inwardly painful, and they are certainly difficult to address for anyone who is a caretaker of a negative schizophrenic. Developing new medical and therapeutic treatments are urged, and physicians are encouraged to employ every effort to help these patients.



Discuss this Article

Post 2

@Eli222-Negative schizophrenia is diagnosed in much the same way as other mental illnesses-with a thorough and structured clinical assessment by a trained psychiatrist. Some symptoms are expected to be present and observable. Family histories and interviews (if the patient permits) can also lend insight into the condition.

In the end, the diagnosis is the result of the medical professional’s opinion. For that reason, it’s crucial to find a well qualified, experienced and reputable psychiatrist.

Post 1

I didn't know about this type of schizophrenia but it fits the description of someone in my family. He has no motivation and flattening describes him perfectly.

If he were to be seen, how is negative schizophrenia diagnosed?

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