Bodily Experience of Emotion Differs With Schizophrenia

January 3, 2019

People with schizophrenia may experience emotions in their bodies differently than people without the disorder, according to a recent study published online in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

     This graphic compares body maps of the control group
     (top) and of people with schizophrenia (bottom).
     Courtesy of Sohee Park.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, directed 26 people with schizophrenia and 26 demographically matched control subjects without the disorder to fill in a computerized body map to indicate where in their bodies they felt sensations while experiencing 13 different emotions, such as anger and depression.

While participants without schizophrenia showed distinct maps that indicated specific arousal and energy patterns across different emotions, participants with schizophrenia portrayed decreased bodily sensation across all emotions, researchers found. What’s more, participants with schizophrenia largely did not differentiate among emotions on their body maps.

Future Opportunities in the Treatment of Schizophrenia

Researchers believe disrupted emotional embodiment may contributed to poor social functioning.

“The main outcome of this research is that we have a better understanding of why people with schizophrenia might have trouble interacting with others,” said researcher Lénie J. Torregrossa, a PhD student. “What we can do now is help them learn to attend to physiological sensations arising from their bodies and use them to process emotions.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


Torregrossa LJ, Snodgress MA, Hong SJ, et al. Anomalous bodily maps of emotions in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 2018 December 14;[Epub ahead of print].

Hall H. People with schizophrenia experience emotion differently from others, ‘body maps’ show [press release]. Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University; December 21, 2018.