Impaired theory of mind in schizophrenia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study argues that linguistic/communication dysfunctions present in disorganized schizophrenia may stem, at least in part, from an impaired theory of mind. Using pragmatics and systemic linguistic theory, the study examined speech samples of two disorganized schizophrenic patients and attempted to determine if their communicative failures are because they lack theory of mind in the sense that they do not take into account the interlocutor’s mind, i.e., the interlocutor’s intentions, dispositions, and knowledge; or because they have a hyper-theory of mind through which they over-attribute mental states to their interlocutor, i.e., assume that their interlocutor has access to their intentions, dispositions, and knowledge. The study indicates that disorganized schizophrenics are unlikely to be characterized as lacking a theory of mind; rather they seem to have a hyper-theory of mind, to which the psychopathological symptoms of hallucinations, delusions of reference and incoherent speech can be attributed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-282
Number of pages36
JournalPragmatics and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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