Schizophrenia News August 2014

  • Research indicates individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia cannot set and achieve goals.  Does this hold true for everyone with schizophrenia?  What percentage of people with this illness are unable to set and achieve goals?


    One study involved 47 people with schizophrenia and 41 people without this illness.  To be statistically accurate a survey needs 50 people.  The research was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology this week.


    The research team used cognitive assessments and random phone calls over the period of a week.  Participants were called four times a day at random throughout the day.  They were asked about their current mood, what they were doing and how much enjoyment they were getting out of it.  The team also asked about participants' goals for the rest of the day.

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    The results were coded by how much pleasure the individuals were getting out of their daily activities and how much effort was involved.  This was then compared with the results from the cognitive assessments.


    The research team found people with schizophrenia engage in low-impact, pleasurable goals such as watching TV or eating food for enjoyment yet have greater difficulty with more complex undertakings or goals requiring more effort. 


    Lead researcher David Gard suggests:


    "There's something breaking down in the process around assessing high-effort high-reward goals.  When the reward is high and the effort is high, that's when people with schizophrenia struggle to hold in mind and go after the thing they want for themselves."


    That's interesting because the greater the challenge, the harder I work to achieve it.  I constantly set the bar higher for what I want to do in my life.


    Like I said, a survey needs 50 people to provide results that are statistically significant.  Forty-seven people is close yet it shouldn't be taken as the absolute binding truth about what everyone diagnosed with schizophrenia can or can't do.


    I'm surprised a study was conducted with fewer than 50 people.  I'm also surprised the research team automatically assumed watching TV was a pleasurable activity.  I detest watching TV and can think of better more productive things to do with my time.  This study unfortunately stereotypes individuals with schizophrenia because it equates watching TV as a useful activity.


    If it assumes all a person with this illness is capable of doing is watching TV all day: we MUST rethink rehabilitation for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and whether the traditional psychosocial modalities are helping people lead full and robust lives.


    If people diagnosed with schizophrenia are spending our days sleeping on the sofa at a Clubhouse and then coming home to watch TV: I question why the bar has been set this low.


    If a person has consciously chosen to watch TV versus doing another activity: that is another story.  I'm not going to judge someone who prefers to watch TV all day.  Everyone has the right to choose how we want to live our lives.


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    I simply think this is another case where the media fails to show research that is hopeful.  It's an attempt to set in motion an alternative treatment to help people with schizophrenia set and achieve goals.  To show that now mental healthcare providers should help their patients develop techniques that will better enable them to set and achieve goals.


    To this end: I will talk in my next SharePost about goal-setting.  I've already written at least two SharePosts over the last 8 years about goal-setting.  It's time to revisit this topic.  I might even publish a two-part series on goal-setting to make sure I've covered this as best I can.


    I do have specific, useful ideas about how a person can set a goal, follow-through on taking action on it, and achieve the result they have in mind.


    (Difficulty assessing effort drives motivation deficits in schizophrenia, study finds," retrieved on August 21, 2014 from

Published On: August 24, 2014