Insight in schizophrenia spectrum disorders: relationship with behavior, mood and perceived quality of life, underlying causes and emerging treatments

Paul H. Lysaker, Michelle L. Pattison, Bethany L. Leonhardt, Scott Phelps, Jenifer L. Vohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


Poor insight in schizophrenia is prevalent across cultures and phases of illness. In this review, we examine the recent research on the relationship of insight with behavior, mood and perceived quality of life, on its complex roots, and on the effects of existing and emerging treatments. This research indicates that poor insight predicts poorer treatment adherence and therapeutic alliance, higher symptom severity and more impaired community function, while good insight predicts a higher frequency of depression and demoralization, especially when coupled with stigma and social disadvantage. This research also suggests that poor insight may arise in response to biological, experiential, neuropsychological, social-cognitive, metacognitive and socio-political factors. Studies of the effects of existing and developing treatments indicate that they may influence insight. In the context of earlier research and historical models, these findings support an integrative model of poor insight. This model suggests that insight requires the integration of information about changes in internal states, external circumstances, others’ perspectives and life trajectory as well as the multifaceted consequences and causes of each of those changes. One implication is that treatments should, beyond providing education, seek to assist persons with schizophrenia to integrate the broad range of complex and potentially deeply painful experiences which are associated with mental illness into their own personally meaningful, coherent and adaptive picture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2018



  • Insight
  • antipsychotic medication
  • depression
  • metacognition
  • neurocognition
  • psychotherapy
  • quality of life
  • recovery
  • schizophrenia
  • social cognition
  • stigma
  • therapeutic alliance
  • treatment adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this