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Theory of Mind in Euthymic Bipolar Patients and First-Degree Relatives

Santos, Josep Manel PhD; Pousa, Esther PhD; Soto, Estel MD; Comes, Anna MSc; Roura, Pere MD; Arrufat, Francesc X. PhD; Obiols, Jordi E. PhD

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: March 2017 - Volume 205 - Issue 3 - p 207–212
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000595
Original Articles

Abstract: The present study analyzed the capacity for mentalization of patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and their first-degree relatives (FDR) and examined the implications of clinical variables and cognitive deficits. The study recruited 31 patients with type I BD, 18 FDR, and 31 paired healthy controls. Their capacity for mentalization was explored by means of first- and second-order false-belief tasks, the hinting task, and the Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC). Patients and FDR were found to have a theory of mind (ToM) deficit when they were evaluated with the MASC, which was also related to a worse neurocognitive performance and to being a patient or FDR. The evidence of ToM deficits in FDRs supports the hypothesis that these deficits could be an independent trait marker for cognitive deficit. Further research is needed on FDR of patients with BD, using sensitive ToM assessment instruments such as the MASC.

*Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Psychopathology and Neuropsychology Research Unit, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; †Research Group in Mental Health and Social Innovation (SaMIS), Universitat de Vic–Universitat Central de Catalunya/Consorci Hospitalari de Vic, Vic, Catalonia; and ‡Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí Sabadell, University Hospital–Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.

Send reprint requests to Josep Manel Santos, PhD, Consorci Hospitalari de Vic, Centre de Salut Mental, Carrer Francesc Pla n1, Vic, Barcelona 08550, Spain. E-mail: jmsantos@chv.cat.

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