Background: Mild psychotic experiences are common in the general population. Although transient and benign in most cases, these experiences are predictive of later mental health problems for a significant minority. The goal of the present study was to perform examinations of the dimensional and discrete variations in individuals' reporting of subclinical positive and negative psychotic experiences in a unique Dutch internet-based sample from the general population.
Methods: Positive and negative subclinical psychotic experiences were measured with the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences in 2870 individuals. First, the prevalence of these experiences and their associations with demographics, affect, psychopathology and quality of life were investigated. Next, latent class analysis was used to identify data-driven subgroups with different symptom patterns, which were subsequently compared on aforementioned variables.
Results: Subclinical psychotic experiences were commonly reported. Both positive and negative psychotic experiences were associated with younger age, more negative affect, anxiety and depression as well as less positive affect and poorer quality of life. Seven latent classes ('Low psychotic experiences', 'Lethargic', 'Blunted', 'Distressed', 'Paranormal', 'Distressed/grandiose' and 'Distressed/positive psychotic experiences') were identified that demonstrated both dimensional differences in the number/severity of psychotic experiences and discrete differences in the patterns of reported experiences.
Conclusion: Subclinical psychotic experiences show both dimensional severity variations and discrete symptom-pattern variations across individuals. To understand and capture all interindividual variations in subclinical psychotic experiences, their number, nature and context (co-occurrence patterns) should be considered at the same time. Only some psychotic experiences may lay on a true psychopathological psychosis continuum. (C) 2016 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.