Study: Pretending to Have Psychosis Leads to Symptoms of Psychosis

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July 7, 2014 - Universe

Researchers at the University of East Pasadena have completed a groundbreaking study on symptoms of psychosis. Following a multi-million dollar research initiative that lasted 4 years, researchers found that those who pretended to have psychosis displayed features of psychosis in a followup examination.

“We found that participants who pretended to hear voices in their head, faked intense mood swings, and engaged knowingly in psychopathic outbursts displayed hallmark features of psychosis including hearing voices in their head, intense mood swings, and psychopathic outbursts.” said Dr. Reginald Sanders, professor of psychology.

The study involved bringing participants into the lab and instructing some to act like crazy people while others in a control group acted as they normally would. The results showed that while only 6% of the control group displayed characteristics of psychosis, 100% of participants in the test group engaged in behaviors indicative of a crazy person.

But while the study confirms a relationship between pretending to be insane and looking like an insane person, Sanders cautions that the results do not provide conclusive evidence of causation.

“We cannot assume from this study that pretending to be crazy actually makes you crazy. We can only say that we are relatively certain that those who pretend to be out of their mind tend to display similar characteristics as a person who really is batshit insane,” he said.

Sanders says future studies will focus on establishing such a causation, and if so, discovering how therapists can use this to help treat patients. One example, he says, is having psychiatrists shift away from traditional treatments and instead tell their patients that they should stop pretending to be crazy.