Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Experiences of alien control in schizophrenia reflect a disorder in the central monitoring of action

Christopher D. Fritha1 c1 and D. John Donea1

a1 CRC Psychiatry, Harrow


Twenty-three acute psychotic patients who were drug free at the time of testing performed a motor task designed to elicit many errors. Normal subjects and many of the psychotic patients were able to correct these errors in the absence of visual feedback. The ability to make such corrections depends on the subject knowing what response he has just made. Patients with experiences of alien control of their thoughts and actions who formed a subgroup of those classified as schizophrenic, were significantly less likely to make error corrections in the absence of visual feedback. This result is consistent with our previous suggestion (Frith, 1987) that these symptoms are a consequence of problems with the central monitoring of responses.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr C. D. Frith, Division of Psychiatry, Clinical Research Centre, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ.