In review psychotic symptoms as a continuum between normality and pathology

Emmanuel Stip, Genevieve Letourneau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews the presence of psychotic features in the nonclinical population. The results of a literature review suggest that delusional and hallucinatory experiences are more common in the general population than we may think, and that there could well be a symptomatic continuum between people who have and people who have not been diagnosed with indisputable psychotic disorders. In the nonclinical population, voices are mainly positive and nonthreatening. Conversely, in the psychiatric population, they tend to be frequent, intrusive, and distressing. We address the question of voices considered as various human experiences and describe the emergence of the nonclinical group of people who hear voices. We also review the pathophysiology of auditory hallucinations as an illustration of a neurophysiological anomaly, which is useful to understand psychosis or schizophrenia. The main obstacle in the category-specific thought is that it remains impossible to unmistakably demarcate the border around schizophrenia. It is evident that the creation of a boundary is always possible by using arbitrary criteria that improve interrater reliability but exclude a considerable number of people who share multiple common features with diagnosed people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-151
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuum between pathology and normality
  • Dimensions of mental disorders
  • Normality
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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