Schizotypy and Mindfulness

Veena Kumari1,2, Elena Antonova1, Kavitha Amaratunga1, Bernice Wright1, Ulrich Ettinger3; 1King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), Department of Psychology, London, UK, 2NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK, 3University of Bonn, Department of Psychology, Bonn, Germany

Background: Despite growing evidence for the efficacy of mindfulness in various mental and physical disorders, there is concern about the relationship between mindfulness practice and psychosis. As schizotypy is part of the psychosis spectrum, we examined the relationship between long-term mindfulness practice and schizotypy in two studies. Methods: Study 1 included 24 experienced mindfulness practitioners from the Buddhist tradition (meditators) and 24 meditation-naïve individuals. Study 2 consisted of 28 meditators and 28 meditation-naïve individuals. Study 1 participants completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ; Raine, 1991), a self-report scale containing 9 subscales (e.g. ideas of reference, excessive social anxiety, magical thinking, unusual perceptual experiences, no close friends, odd speech, and suspiciousness). Study 2 participants completed the SPQ and the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire which assesses observing (observe), describing (describe), acting with awareness (awareness), non-judging of (non-judgment) and non-reactivity to inner experience (non-reactivity) facets of trait mindfulness. Results: In both studies, meditators scored significantly lower on suspiciousness and higher on magical thinking compared to meditation-naïve individuals and showed a trend towards lower social anxiety. Excessive social anxiety correlated negatively with awareness and non-judgment; and suspiciousness with awareness, non-judgment and non-reactivity facets across both groups. The two groups did not differ in their total schizotypy score. Conclusions: Mindfulness practice is not associated with an overall increase in schizotypal traits. Instead, the pattern suggests that mindfulness meditation, especially with regard to awareness, non-judgment and non-reactivity aspects, may help to reduce suspiciousness and excessive social anxiety in psychosis and at risk populations.

Topic Area: Translational Research

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