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Social cognition and treatment in psychosis

PhD ceremony:Ms R. (Rozanne) van Donkersgoed
When:May 24, 2018
Start:12:45
Supervisors:prof. dr. G.H.M. (Marieke) Pijnenborg, prof. dr. A. (Andre) Aleman
Co-supervisor:drs. A. Wunderink
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Social cognition and treatment in psychosis

This thesis presents research into social cognition and treatment of metacognition in people with psychotic disorders. Social cognition refers to the mental operations that underlie social interactions. Metacognition refers to the process of thinking about the thoughts and feelings of self and others.

Our research shows impairment in social cognition in people who are at risk for psychosis.

As social cognition is associated with social functioning, which in turn is linked to mental health, it is important to improve social cognition in people at risk for psychosis.

Empathy, an element of social cognition, is impaired in people with psychosis. This people in this group find it difficult to ‘read’ expressive faces in comparison to healthy people.

Previous research has shown impairments in metacognition in people with psychosis. We investigated the effectivity of a new therapy (MERIT) that aims to improve metacognition, in a randomized controlled trial. The participants in the treatment group showed improvement of metacognition, six months after therapy, in comparison to the participants who received treatment as usual. MERIT is an intensive therapy (forty individual sessions) and therefore not the first choice of treatment for every patient, but is can be useful for specific groups of patients that do not react to standard, short therapies.