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One in 10 people have potential for schizophrenia
August 24, 2010Tweet
About 1 in 10 people have the potential to develop schizophrenia, but only 1 in 100 actually end up with this devastating illness. The challenge is in knowing why some do and some don’t.
Drawing from over 25 years of laboratory study, Mark F. Lenzenweger, a distinguished professor of clinical science, neuroscience and cognitive psychology at Binghamton University, thinks that not only does he have the makings of a good response to this troubling question, but also how to go about finding those answers.
In his latest book, Schizotypy and Schizophrenia: The View from Experimental Psychopathology, Lenzenweger explores lessons he has learned in the psychological science laboratory while probing the broader questions of how to think about and conduct psychopathology research.
“The liability for schizophrenia is relatively prevalent and common in our population,” Lenzenweger said. “Therefore, understanding why someone goes on to develop the illness is a high-priority research question. I firmly believe that those who harbor this liability but do not develop the full-blown illness of schizophrenia may hold the key to this puzzle. Since this is an ongoing challenge for our society, training the next generation in how to think about and conduct psychopathology research is just as vital. So what I’ve tried to do is combine both of those elements in a way that I hope will appeal to both the experienced researcher and those just starting out.”
The book traces Lenzenweger’s efforts to find answers using laboratory and statistical procedures by examining a host of related conceptual issues, data analytic strategies and methodical viewpoints that he has found helpful over the years. Using clinical anecdotes and research recollection, Lenzenweger hopes that readers will develop an appreciation for those substantive issues that have and are currently pressing (and interesting) on the causes of schizophrenia and related disorders.
“Schizophrenia is perhaps the costliest form of mental illness,” he said. “In addition, it has a strong genetic component; about 80 percent of what determines schizophrenia is related to genetic influences. All people with schizophrenia share a personality organization known as schizotypy. And the person who carries schizotypy is known as a schizotype. Yet not all schizotypes are schizophrenic. In fact, the vast majority of schizotypes do not go on to develop the illness. So it stands to reason that the study of schizotypic individuals offers a unique perspective on what might cause the illness.”
According to Lenzenweger, the way forward in understanding the causes and development of schizophrenia will be complex and difficult terrain. “There will be no simple solution or discovery of the remedies the entire problem,” said Lenzenweger. “But I hope that my book will chart the course for the field as it stands currently and show the way forward for the generation to come.”
About Mark F. Lenzenweger
Lenzenweger, who joined Binghamton’s faculty in 2001, is an internationally renowned researcher in the areas of schizophrenia and personality disorder.
He concurrently has directed the landmark Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorder, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, that continues to push the frontiers of knowledge in this area.
A prolific writer, Lenzenweger is also an adjunct professor of psychology in psychiatry at the Weill College of Medicine at Cornell University in New York City.
He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in clinical psychology (experimental psychopathology) from Yeshiva University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University, where he began his academic career as a member of the tenured faculty. He then moved on to a professorial post at Harvard.
In 2006, Lenzenweger received the State University of New York Award for Research and Scholarship as well as the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. A year later, he was promoted to distinguished professor, a tenured University ranking—the highest in the SUNY system—that is conferred for consistently extraordinary accomplishment.