Lack of relationship between psychological denial and unawareness of illness in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders

Carrie L. Kruck, Laura A. Flashman, Robert M. Roth, Nancy S. Koven, Thomas W. McAllister, Andrew J. Saykin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Numerous theories have been proposed to explain the unawareness of illness that is commonly seen in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, including the theory that unawareness is the result of a psychological denial mechanism used to mitigate the emotional consequences of having a psychiatric illness. The present study was an attempt to determine whether increased denial (in the form of self-deception) is associated with impaired awareness, consistent with the denial theory. Participants included 40 patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and 25 healthy comparison participants. Patients' levels of awareness and symptom attribution were assessed through interview, and all participants completed self-report questionnaires measuring mood symptoms as well as their use of self-deception. Awareness of negative symptoms was associated with increased depression. However, self-deception was not significantly correlated with awareness measures. When patients were divided on the basis of their awareness and attribution scores, no group differences emerged regarding use of self-deception. The patient group and the healthy comparison group did not differ in their use of self-deception. The current results do not support the psychological denial theory of unawareness of illness in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2009


  • Awareness
  • Deception
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Insight
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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