Intrusive prospective imagery, posttraumatic intrusions and anxiety in Schizophrenia

Charlotte Malcolm, Marco Picchioni, Lyn Ellett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trauma exposure and intrusive thoughts are commonly reported in both schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Information processing accounts suggest that intrusions occur in the two conditions as a result of insufficient state and/or trait contextual processing in long-term memory. Most research has focused on intrusions about past events, while growing evidence suggests that intrusions about prospective imagined events warrants further investigation. Prospective intrusive imagery has yet to be examined in psychotic disorders but could provide crucial information regarding the aetiology and maintenance of psychotic symptoms. The current study examines the role of prospective intrusive imagery, posttraumatic intrusions and anxiety in schizophrenia. Fifty-seven participants (30 patients and 27 healthy controls) completed measures of trauma, PTSD, anxiety, general non-affective use of imagery, and intrusive prospective imagery. Patients reported significantly more intrusive prospective imagery relative to control participants but, importantly, not greater use of general non-affective imagery. Intrusive prospective imagery was associated with posttraumatic intrusions and anxiety in schizophrenia. The findings are consistent with information processing models of intrusions and psychosis, and provide novel insights for theoretical accounts, clinical formulation and therapeutic targets for psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899–904
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
Early online date19 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2015

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