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Schizophrenia phenomenology revisited: positive and negative symptoms are strongly related reflective manifestations of an underlying single trait indicating overall severity of schizophrenia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2020

Abbas F. Almulla
Medical Laboratory Technology Department, College of Medical Technology, The Islamic University, Najaf, Iraq
Hussein K. Al-Hakeim
Department of Chemistry, College of Science, University of Kufa, Kufa, Iraq
Michael Maes*
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Plovdiv, Plovdiv, Bulgaria Department of Psychiatry, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
*Michael Maes, MD, PhD, Email:



To examine whether negative symptoms, psychosis, hostility, excitation, and mannerism (PHEM symptoms), formal thought disorders (FTD) and psychomotor retardation (PMR) are interrelated phenomena in major neurocognitive psychosis (MNP) or deficit schizophrenia and whether those domains belong to an underlying latent vector reflecting general psychopathology.


In this study, we recruited 120 patients with MNP or deficit schizophrenia and 54 healthy subjects and measured the above-mentioned symptom domains.


In MNP, there were significant associations between negative and PHEM symptoms, FTD and PMR. A single latent trait, which is essentially unidimensional, underlies these key domains of schizophrenia and MNP and additionally shows excellent internal consistency reliability, convergent validity, and predictive relevance. Confirmatory Tedrad Analysis indicates that this latent vector fits a reflective model. The lack of discriminant validity shows that positive (and PHEM or psychotic) and negative symptoms greatly overlap and probably measure the same latent construct. Soft independent modeling of class analogy (SIMCA) shows that MNP (diagnosis based on negative symptoms) is better modeled using PHEM symptoms, FTD, and PMR than negative symptoms.


In stable phase MNP, which is a restricted sample of the schizophrenia population, negative and PHEM symptoms, FTD and PMR belong to one underlying latent vector reflecting overall severity of schizophrenia (OSOS). The bi-dimensional concept of “positive” and “negative” symptoms cannot be validated and, therefore, future research in stable phase schizophrenia should consider that the latent phenomenon OSOS as well as its reflective manifestations are the key factors of schizophrenia phenomenology.

Original Research
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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