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


The symptoms of psychiatric illness are diverse, as are the causes of the conditions 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 or where actions and thoughts have a positive bias and 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.

DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.09.029

Cite this paper

@article{Golembiewski2012CommonPS, title={Common psychotic symptoms can be explained by the theory of ecological perception.}, author={Jan Alexander Golembiewski}, journal={Medical hypotheses}, year={2012}, volume={78 1}, pages={7-10} }