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The period before the formation of a persecutory delusion may provide causal insights. Patient accounts are invaluable in informing this understanding.
To inform the understanding of delusion formation, we asked patients about the occurrence of potential causal factors – identified from a cognitive model – before delusion onset.
A total of 100 patients with persecutory delusions completed a checklist about their subjective experiences in the weeks before belief onset. The checklist included items concerning worry, images, low self-esteem, poor sleep, mood dysregulation, dissociation, manic-type symptoms, aberrant salience, hallucinations, substance use and stressors. Time to reach certainty in the delusion was also assessed.
Most commonly it took patients several months to reach delusion certainty (n = 30), although other patients took a few weeks (n = 24), years (n = 21), knew instantly (n = 17) or took a few days (n = 6). The most frequent experiences occurring before delusion onset were: low self-confidence (n = 84); excessive worry (n = 80); not feeling like normal self (n = 77); difficulties concentrating (n = 77); going over problems again and again (n = 75); being very negative about the self (n = 75); images of bad things happening (n = 75); and sleep problems (n = 75). The average number of experiences occurring was high (mean 23.5, s.d. = 8.7). The experiences clustered into six main types, with patients reporting an average of 5.4 (s.d. = 1.0) different types.
Patients report numerous different experiences in the period before full persecutory delusion onset that could be contributory causal factors, consistent with a complex multifactorial view of delusion occurrence. This study, however, relied on retrospective self-report and could not determine causality.
The cognitive process of worry, which keeps negative thoughts in mind and elaborates the content, contributes to the occurrence of many mental health disorders. Our principal aim was to develop a straightforward measure of general problematic worry suitable for research and clinical treatment. Our secondary aim was to develop a measure of problematic worry specifically concerning paranoid fears.
An item pool concerning worry in the past month was evaluated in 250 non-clinical individuals and 50 patients with psychosis in a worry treatment trial. Exploratory factor analysis and item response theory (IRT) informed the selection of scale items. IRT analyses were repeated with the scales administered to 273 non-clinical individuals, 79 patients with psychosis and 93 patients with social anxiety disorder. Other clinical measures were administered to assess concurrent validity. Test-retest reliability was assessed with 75 participants. Sensitivity to change was assessed with 43 patients with psychosis.
A 10-item general worry scale (Dunn Worry Questionnaire; DWQ) and a five-item paranoia worry scale (Paranoia Worries Questionnaire; PWQ) were developed. All items were highly discriminative (DWQ a = 1.98–5.03; PWQ a = 4.10–10.7), indicating small increases in latent worry lead to a high probability of item endorsement. The DWQ was highly informative across a wide range of the worry distribution, whilst the PWQ had greatest precision at clinical levels of paranoia worry. The scales demonstrated excellent internal reliability, test-retest reliability, concurrent validity and sensitivity to change.
The new measures of general problematic worry and worry about paranoid fears have excellent psychometric properties.
Background: Many patients do not respond adequately to current pharmacological or psychological treatments for psychosis. Persistent persecutory delusions are common in clinical services, and cause considerable patient distress and impairment. Our aim has been to build a new translational personalized treatment, with the potential for wide use, that leads to high rates of recovery in persistent persecutory delusions. We have been developing, and evaluating individually, brief modular interventions, each targeting a key causal factor identified from our cognitive model. These modules are now combined in “The Feeling Safe Programme”. Aims: To test the feasibility of a new translational modular treatment for persistent persecutory delusions and provide initial efficacy data. Method: 12 patients with persistent persecutory delusions in the context of non-affective psychosis were offered the 6-month Feeling Safe Programme. After assessment, patients chose from a personalized menu of treatment options. Four weekly baseline assessments were carried out, followed by monthly assessments. Recovery in the delusion was defined as conviction falling below 50% (greater doubt than certainty). Results: 11 patients completed the intervention. One patient withdrew before the first monthly assessment due to physical health problems. An average of 20 sessions (SD = 4.4) were received. Posttreatment, 7 out of 11 (64%) patients had recovery in their persistent delusions. Satisfaction ratings were high. Conclusions: The Feeling Safe Programme is feasible to use and was associated with large clinical benefits. To our knowledge this is the first treatment report focused on delusion recovery. The treatment will be tested in a randomized controlled trial.
Background: Ruminative negative thinking has typically been considered as a factor maintaining common emotional disorders and has recently been shown to maintain persecutory delusions in psychosis. The Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire (PTQ) (Ehring et al., 2011) is a transdiagnostic measure of ruminative negative thinking that shows promise as a “content-free” measure of ruminative negative thinking. Aims: The PTQ has not previously been studied in a psychosis patient group. In this study we report for the first time on the psychometric properties of Ehring et al.'s PTQ in such a group. Method: The PTQ was completed by 142 patients with current persecutory delusions and 273 non-clinical participants. Participants also completed measures of worry and paranoia. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed on the clinical group's PTQ responses to assess the factor structure of the measure. Differences between groups were used to assess criterion reliability. Results: A three lower-order factor structure of the PTQ (core characteristics of ruminative negative thinking, perceived unproductiveness, and capturing mental capacity) was replicated in the clinical sample. Patients with persecutory delusions were shown to experience significantly higher levels of ruminative negative thinking on the PTQ than the general population sample. The PTQ demonstrated high internal reliability. Conclusions: This study did not include test-retest data, and did not compare the PTQ against a measure of depressive rumination but, nevertheless, lends support for the validity of the PTQ as a measure of negative ruminative thinking in patients with psychosis.
Background: Paranoia may build directly upon negative thoughts about the self. There have been few direct experimental tests of this hypothesis. Aims: The aim of the study was to test the immediate effects of manipulating self-esteem in individuals vulnerable to paranoia. Method: A two condition cross-over experimental test was conducted. The participants were 26 males reporting paranoid ideation in the past month. Each participant experienced a neutral immersive virtual reality (VR) social environment twice. Before VR participants received a low self-confidence manipulation or a high self-confidence manipulation. The order of manipulation type was randomized. Paranoia about the VR avatars was assessed. Results: The low self-confidence manipulation, relative to the high self-confidence manipulation, led to significantly more negative social comparison in virtual reality and higher levels of paranoia. Conclusions: Level of self-confidence affects the occurrence of paranoia in vulnerable individuals. The clinical implication is that interventions designed to improve self-confidence may reduce persecutory ideation.
Significant new opportunities for astrophysics and cosmology have been identified at low radio frequencies. The Murchison Widefield Array is the first telescope in the southern hemisphere designed specifically to explore the low-frequency astronomical sky between 80 and 300 MHz with arcminute angular resolution and high survey efficiency. The telescope will enable new advances along four key science themes, including searching for redshifted 21-cm emission from the EoR in the early Universe; Galactic and extragalactic all-sky southern hemisphere surveys; time-domain astrophysics; and solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric science and space weather. The Murchison Widefield Array is located in Western Australia at the site of the planned Square Kilometre Array (SKA) low-band telescope and is the only low-frequency SKA precursor facility. In this paper, we review the performance properties of the Murchison Widefield Array and describe its primary scientific objectives.
Motivated by the increasing need for observational resources for the study of time varying astronomy, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) is a private foundation, whose goal is to build a global network of robotic telescopes for scientific research and education. Once completed, the network will become a unique tool, capable of continuous monitoring from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The network currently includes 2 × 2.0 m telescopes, already making an impact in the field of exoplanet research. In the next few years they will be joined by at least 12 × 1.0 m and 20 × 0.4 m telescopes. The increasing amount of LCOGT observational resources in the coming years will be of great service to the astronomical community in general, and the exoplanet community in particular.
We present the Northern HIPASS Optical/Infrared Catalogue (NOIRCAT), an optical/near-infrared counterpart catalogue for the Northern HIPASS catalogue (NHICAT). Of the 1002 sources in NHICAT, 655 (66%) have optical counterparts with matching optical velocities. A further 87 sources have optical counterparts with matching velocities from previous radio emission line surveys. Assuming a dark galaxy to be an isolated HI source with no detectable stars, no candidate dark galaxies have been confirmed.
The HI Parkes All Sky Survey (HIPASS) offers a unique perspective on the galaxy population in the local universe. A catalogue of 4315 HI-selected galaxies has been extracted from the southern region of the survey (δ < +2°). This catalogue gives a clear view of the local large-scale structure and is used to study the two-point correlation function, the Tully-Fisher relation, and galaxy luminosity and mass functions. Some initial results are discussed here.
The low surface brightness galaxy HIPASS1126-72 was detected in the HI Parkes All Sky Survey (HIPASS). The galaxy was previously listed in the Southern Galaxy Catalogue under the name SGC1124.87221. This galaxy represents a class of galaxies that we will readily detect in the HIPASS survey, which have low surface brightness in the optical, but are easily detectable in neutral hydrogen.
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