Department of Psychiatry, Saint-Luc University Hospital and Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS), Université catholique de Louvain, Avenue Hippocrate 10, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.
Objective: Repetitive thoughts can be divided in two modes: abstract/analytic (decontextualized and dysfunctional) and concrete/experiential (problem-focused and adaptive). They constitute a transdiagnostic process involved in many psychopathological states but have received little attention in schizophrenia, as earlier studies only indexed increased ruminations (related to dysfunctional repetitive thoughts) without jointly exploring both modes. This study explored the two repetitive thinking modes, beyond ruminations, to determine their imbalance in schizophrenia.
Methods: Thirty stabilized patients with schizophrenia and 30 matched controls completed the Repetitive Response Scale and the Mini Cambridge-Exeter Repetitive Thought Scale, both measuring repetitive thinking modes. Complementary measures related to schizophrenic symptomatology, depression and anxiety were also conducted.
Results: Compared to controls, patients with schizophrenia presented an imbalance between repetitive thinking modes, with increased abstract/analytic and reduced concrete/experiential thoughts, even after controlling for comorbidities. Schizophrenia is associated with stronger dysfunctional repetitive thoughts (i.e. abstract thinking) and impaired ability to efficiently use repetitive thinking for current problem-solving (i.e. concrete thinking).
Conclusion: This imbalance confirms the double-faced nature of repetitive thinking modes, whose influence on schizophrenia's symptomatology should be further investigated. The present results also claim for evaluating these processes in clinical settings and for rehabilitating the balance between opposite repetitive thinking modes.