Schizophrenic spectrum disorders are difficult to diagnose. It is because of the extensive symptoms, as well as the large number of signs that are observed in different mental disorders. One of the easiest techniques to identify schizophrenia is based on observing eye movements. Let’s find out what the peculiarities of this diagnosis are.

 

How to Identify Schizophrenia by Eye Movement?

 

About Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects the brain and thinking. What causes it is unknown, but it and other mental disorders are often genetically determined. Also, provoking a schizophrenic attack can cause trauma, including psychological, strong or chronic stress, alcoholism, and other factors.

Schizophrenia is considered one of the most complex psychopathologies. It has many forms and types, with specific signs and nature. Some overlap with the symptoms of other psychiatric syndromes and disorders resembling schizophrenic ones. It complicates diagnosis in many ways. Sometimes, it is necessary to examine the patient for months to make the correct diagnosis.

For example, sluggish schizophrenia takes years to develop, while paranoid or hebephrenic schizophrenia progresses rapidly. Some patients have delusions and hallucinations, while others do not. Some types of pathology are accompanied by aggression, and some are characterized by apathy and lack of willpower. Catatonic syndrome, obsessions, and compulsions, which are observed in other mental illnesses, are also possible in schizophrenic spectrum disorders.

Science has advanced far in studying schizophrenia, but much remains unclear. It is difficult not only to determine its causes but also to predict its development. No doctor will give a 100 percent guarantee. Some patients may lead a normal life, going into remission most of the time, and some lose their personality and remain permanently in a clinic under the care of medical personnel.

 

Diagnosis

A variety of techniques are used in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. In the first stage, information is collected from the patient and his relatives, medical histories are studied, and tests are collected. In the second stage, the patient undergoes MRI, CT, EEG, and other tests. Then, specialists get involved in conducting all kinds of tests.

There are tests on the Internet that allow you to check yourself for schizophrenia online. But doctors do not recommend that you diagnose yourself as such.

This amount of work is explained by the fact that it is necessary to accurately identify the form, type, and stage of schizophrenia. However, the doctor can suspect it or make a preliminary diagnosis after the initial examination and conversation. One of this plan’s simplest and sufficiently accurate methods is tests that help identify schizophrenia by eyeball movement.

 

Definition of schizophrenia by eye

Put the hypothesis that schizophrenia was reflected in the eyes forward a hundred years ago. Until now, however, there was no definitive evidence for such hypotheses. This issue was put to rest by researchers David Clair and Philip Benson, who developed tests to distinguish a person with schizophrenia by eye movements. The accuracy of the methodology to determine the pathology was 98.3%, which is considered quite high.

The methodology includes three tests:

  • The smooth tracking test. When performing it, a person must follow the point as it moves across the computer display. It moves slowly, so a healthy subject would have no trouble passing such a test. It turned out that the schizophrenic’s eyeballs do not make the same smooth movements but as if jumping from one point to another. In other words, the eyes first lag behind the object and then sharply catch up with it. In medicine, this phenomenon is called saccades.
  • Free Viewing Test. Patients are allowed to look at any object freely. The researcher records the data. When comparing the results with healthy people’s, unusual features of eye movements and schizophrenics are revealed. They are more chaotic.
  • The gaze fixation test. You must look at one point without moving the eyeballs to perform it successfully. Schizophrenic patients can’t do this.

The researchers believe that the listed symptoms are seen in the early stages of schizophrenia. Doctors can use such markers to start medication earlier without waiting for more serious signs. However, exactly how the connection between psychopathology and the organs of vision arises is not yet known.

 

Eye Touch

Another group of studies aimed to study eye (visual) contact of patients with schizophrenia with healthy people. It turns out that it is absent in patients with catatonic syndromes practically in 50% of cases. They often look at their hands, the floor, the door, and with the development of depressive or depressive-delirium syndromes – at the window. Simply put, a schizophrenic patient with catatonic symptoms avoids eye contact and does not want to look into the eyes of their partner.

Patients with paranoid and hallucinatory-paranoid syndromes, as well as Kandinsky-Clerambault syndrome, in which the person believes his thoughts and movements are controlled, show the following picture. Eye contact is not just there – it is continuous. Moreover, the patient very rarely blinks and looks obliquely. There is almost no intermittent eye contact in schizophrenia.

When answering questions, patients try to look at the doctor but turn away the moment he asks a question. On the other hand, healthy people look at the person when asked but start wandering when they answer.

In catatonic disorders, there is no contact even when the schizophrenic person is intensely stimulated. The eyes of the patients seem to freeze. Of the entire group of subjects, only one had pupils that reacted to such stimuli.

 

Signals in schizophrenia

The article’s third group of studies worth highlighting is not related to the eyes but also concerns the diagnosis of schizophrenia by external parameters, i.e., by the patient’s gestures. In the presence of delusional disorders, there are more gestures of detachment, disgust, anxiety, and demonstration. It is called aggressive-preventive behavior.

Depressive and paranoid positive symptoms are accompanied by gestures of conversion, anxiety, thoughtfulness, completed action, and clapping. In negative symptoms and catatonia, the patient often gestures with embarrassment and submissiveness.

As a result, scientists have created a classification of syndromes based on gestures:

  • Affective (agonistic behavior);
  • Productive (empathic gestures);
  • Negative (flight from contact).

Observations of specific body parts can also be used in diagnosis. For example, nods and head tilt in healthy and schizophrenics are noted with identical frequency but are rarely detected in patients with deficit and catatonic syndromes. Their shoulders react more frequently when talking to the doctor. In paranoid symptomatology, they go up, especially during a conversation with men about the causes of the pathology, which many patients try to hide.

In affective syndromes, the shoulders flinch, but under the influence of a strong sound or change of body position by the psychiatrist. -In catatonia, this is seen even when exposed to minor stimuli – the rustling of paper, raising of the hand, etc.

Studies are not limited to observation of eyes and body position. Mimicry, surprise, and other aspects are also studied.

Quite interesting is motor grooming – shaking off the dirt, tidying clothes and hair, etc. In depressive and hypochondriac, signs reveal allogrooming, when one cleans oneself directly, and reciprocal grooming (cleaning one’s neighbor). In all cases, the movements are stereotypic, i.e., the same, which does not depend on external factors.

 

Conclusion

A single patient can provide scientists and physicians with an enormous amount of material for research since delusions, hallucinations, and other symptoms, although they have patterns, are mostly individual.

The disease is being studied, with it being difficult to say at what stage the researchers are. Most likely, as new scientific discoveries related to the workings of the brain emerge, humanity will learn more and more about schizophrenic disorders.

For now, they are chronic, that is, incurable. However, in the future, it may be possible to rid a person of this severe illness forever. Later, one must not start the disease to take advantage of these discoveries since the lost mental functions are often no longer restored. If all the recommendations of a psychiatrist are followed, the patient can hypothetically live a long and comfortable life.