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Temporal Self, Psychopathology, and Adaptive Functioning Deficits

An Examination of Acute Psychiatric Patients

Sokol, Yosef, PhD*; Serper, Mark R., PhD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: February 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 2 - p 76–83
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000925
Original Articles

Individuals with psychiatric illness have difficulty remembering specific events from their personal past and imagining their future. We examined psychotic psychiatric inpatients' sense of self-continuity over time, predicting that low levels of temporal continuity would predict increased psychopathology and lower functionality. Inpatients (n = 60) were compared with healthy controls (n = 60) on a validated measure of self-continuity, psychiatric symptoms, insight, and adaptive functioning capacity. Results revealed that patients had significant difficulty perceiving their past, present, and future selves as unified over time compared with controls. Within the inpatient group, deficits in present to future self-continuity was associated with patients' severity of positive, negative, and mood symptoms, degree of insight, and adaptive capacity. It may be the case that temporal self-unity provides a context for deriving reinforcement from daily life experiences in the moment and in anticipating the future as well as a worthwhile goal for treatment exploration.

*Department of Psychiatry, Ichan Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; and

Department of Psychology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.

Send reprint requests to Mark Serper, PhD, Department of Psychology, Hauser Hall, Hofstra University, 1000 Fulton Ave, Hempstead, NY 11549. E-mail:

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