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Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders are serious illnesses that affect thinking, emotions, behavior and psychosocial functioning.

Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders are serious illnesses that affect thinking, emotions, behavior and psychosocial functioning. Psychotic symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking and are prominent symptoms in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders.

Delusional Disorder is the presence of a delusion, which is a fixed, false belief despite evidence to the contrary. There are many types of delusions such as persecutory, where a person believes that there is a conspiracy against them or that they are being followed, harassed, obstructed, or maligned. 

Schizoaffective Disorder forms a link between schizophrenia symptoms (hallucinations or delusions), and mood disorder symptoms, (depression or mania). There are two types:

  • Bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and at times depressive episodes; and

  • Depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes


Schizophrenia Disorder diagnosis includes 1) hallucinations, 2) delusions,  3) disorganized speech, 4) disorganized or catatonic behavior, and/or 5) negative symptoms. Keep in mind, one of the symptoms must be 1, 2 or 3


Individuals suffering with schizophrenia may seem internally preoccupied or may be observed responding to internal stimuli. The more psychotic aspects of schizophrenia generally emerge between the late teens and mid-30s, although prodromal symptoms (slow and gradual development of signs and symptoms of the disorder) are usually apparent sooner and may manifest in social withdrawal, stranger habits, or a decline in academic performance. The severity of schizophrenia spectrum disorders can range from significant cognitive and emotional disability to somewhat milder social and occupational limitations. Individuals with milder forms of schizophrenia may complete school, hold jobs, and start a family. 

When psychotic symptoms are severe, they can make it difficult for a person to think rationally, behave appropriately, communicate effectively, respond emotionally, make good judgments, and at times comprehend reality. People suffering from psychotic symptoms may draw conclusions based on nonsensical or inappropriate interpretation of events (APA, 2013).

Dr. Elaine Walker Interview

Dr. Elaine Walker is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Emory College’s Department of Psychology and her research focuses on the precursors and neurodevelopmental aspects of psychopathology of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are major mental illnesses that involve an abnormality in central nervous system functioning. Dr. Walker’s research program is concerned with shedding light on the nature and origins of this abnormality, its interaction with neuromaturational processes and the role of environmental stressors in triggering psychotic episodes. Her team is studying the prodromal period of adult-onset psychosis in order to identify manifestations of dysfunction and the predictors of conversion to clinical psychosis. The focus is on exploring the relations among clinical symptoms, neuromaturational processes, neuropsychological functions, and Central Nervous System development. She is leading the Mental Health and Development Research Program supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Walker is the co-author of Abnormal Psychology (2001) and co-editor of Adolescent Psychopathology and the Developing Brain: Integrating Brain and Prevention Science (2007) as well as co-editor of Schizophrenia: A Life-Course Developmental Perspective (1991).


Click the links below to find out more about Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder.


Dr. Elaine Walker


CBT for Schizophrenia


Dr. Elaine Walker Books

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