The purpose of this study is to answer the following question: What are the typical features of abnormal bodily experiences (ABEs) in persons affected by acute first-episode schizophrenia? Our overall objective is to contribute to enhance early diagnosis of schizophrenia, and providing supplementary diagnostic criteria especially for ultra-high risk patients. In a group of 39 patients with firstepisode schizophrenia selected from a sample of 393 psychotic patients, 30 (76.9 %) reported ABEs. By means of a phenomenologicallybased qualitative method of inquiry, we recognized four subtypes of ABEs whose main characteristics are dynamization of bodily boundaries and construction, morbid objectivization/devitalization, dysmorphic experiences and pain-like experiences. These four typologies of ABEs are documented through the patients first-person self-descriptions, and then operationally defined. Two main properties emerge as tentative eidetic (defining) cores of ABEs in early schizophrenia: dynamization of bodily boundaries and construction, and morbid objectivization/devitalization. Sharpening the diagnostic sensibility for typically schizophrenic ABEs can help improve differential diagnosis between schizophrenia and other disorders entailing other types of anomalies of lived corporeality. Also, studying possible transitions from schizophrenic cenesthopathies to bodily delusions in persons with schizophrenia may refine the concept of bizarre delusions by improving its validity. Furthermore, our knowledge about the pathogenesis of schizophrenia may profit from an in-depth assessment of ABEs and their relationship with an abnormal sense of selfhood, especially in early schizophrenia.
Keywords: Abnormal bodily experiences, early diagnosis, early schizophrenia, phenomenology, qualitative research, self-disorders, dysmorphic experiences, pain-like experiences, socio-occupational dysfunctions, delusions
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