Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Social Cognition is Crucial to Employment in Schizophrenia

This article talks about why people with schizophrenia find it hard to get employment and stick with the job. It says: “Social cognition—the ability to comprehend and appropriately respond to social interactions—appears to be among the most important variables in achieving successful employment for people with schizophrenia.  In fact, social cognition was found to be more important than basic neurocognition and clinical symptoms, according to a study presented in a poster session at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research in Orlando, Fla., by Felice Reddy Ph.D.….”  I read a lot about schizophrenics that want a job than they get one and do not interact with their fellow employees in fact they find it hard to.
The article goes on to say: “Social cognition has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years as an important variable in understanding schizophrenia, principal investigator Robert Kern, Ph.D., told Psychiatric News in an interview at the congress.  It includes the cognitive abilities and processes involved in understanding human interaction, perceptions of others and their emotions, and what is known as ‘theory of mind’—the ability to think about what another individual is thinking based on cues in the social environment. These are abilities that most people take for granted, but in schizophrenia we know now that social cognition is one of the key areas of dysfunction, Kern said.  ‘In the work I have been doing for 10 years, one of the primary aims has been to identify variables that distinguish those who are successful in finding work from those who are not successful.”  The studied people with schizophrenia that were successful in holding down a job and found that those that did were able to get along socially.
The article says: “Kern said that the ability to interact socially, even at a minimal level, is key to maintaining employment. Employers will say [of a patient], ‘Well he does the work O.K., but I don’t know what’s going on with him.  He never talks to me or other workers, and during a break he just goes off by himself.’  And the patients will say, ‘The work is O.K., but I don’t really feel comfortable around the other workers, and I definitely don’t want to talk to my supervisor’.  He cited an example of one individual whose car broke down but who was terrified of calling his supervisor to explain; four days went by, he never showed up at work, and he was fired.” I am shy by nature and it takes me awhile to open up about myself.  When I get to know you I will talk though, although I have been this way all my life.  That is why alcohol used to make me more social.
The article says: “Kern emphasized the importance to successful bridging strategies of a clinician who knows the patient well. “ Cognitive skills training needs to be tried to real work-a-day problems encountered by the patient, he said. But that’s a moving target unless you have someone working with the patient on a regular basis.”  Well it is good to see that with cognitive training you can overcome this problem.

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