“Word use in first-person accounts of schizophrenia”

I have just read an Editorial in the January 2015 edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry. It is by Fineberg et al and is entitled “Word use in first-person accounts of schizophrenia”:

An invited commentary was given by Edgar Jones:


This editorial, and its commentary, interested me as as I have recently written myself about who it is that decides if language is “pathological” and on what basis.

Fineberg et al begin their editorial based on their “word counting” study as follows:


Fineberg et al continue:


Fineberg et al “examined whether the key tenets of the cognitive neuroscience frameworks were evident in the written language of patients with schizophrenia compared with those with mood disorders”

Fineberg et al offered the following hypotheses:



Edgar Jones in his invited commentary, began:


Edgar Jones urged caution in the interpretation of Fineberg et als “word count”:


Edgar Jones reminded the British Journal of Psychiatry readers of the importance of context:


To demonstrate how scientific analysis of our use of language might go astray, Edgar Jones asked us to consider two letters written by the same person:


This description returned my thoughts to one of my favourite novels: Love in the time of cholera, where Florentino Ariza’s mother  “. . . was terrified because his condition did not resemble the turmoil of love so much as the devastation of cholera” p71 This novel explored how Florentino Ariza’s language could be profoundly misinterpreted.

Edgar Jones concluded:


I agree with Edgar Jones. We should be wary in deciding that language is “pathological” particularly when context is removed and the “scientific” approach appears to have almost no philosophical considerations.

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