Schizophrenia is usually associated with intellectual problems. I don't think that cognitive deficits are only associated with vulnerability to schizophrenia, though there is the much cited

Russell et al (1997) recently proposed that intellectual decline in schizophrenia was a nothing more than a ‘myth’. They followed up patients who had received an intelligence test as a child, who then developed schizophrenia, and had their intelligence re-tested some 19 years later. There were no differences between the child and adult IQs. However, others have criticised this study on the grounds that the sample was unrepresentative in that the individuals had presented to child psychiatry units and were far more intellectually impaired than subjects in other studies of children who subsequently developed schizophrenia.

From my research prior to this question, it seems that there is a loss of ability, but likely not chronic decline over the course of the illness, one before or during the transition to psychosis. Another well known meta review claims this, that there's

no support for hypothesizing a degenerative process in schizophrenia once positive symptoms appear... a static encephalopathy rather than a degenerative process

I've seen it said that it is centered on mathematical ability.

What do we know about mathematical ability pre and post psychosis, in schizophrenia? e.g., was John Nash a worse mathematician after he went mad?


Russell, A. J., et al. (1997) Schizophrenia and the myth of intellectual decline. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(5), pp 635–639.
DOI: 10.1176/ajp.154.5.635 PMID: 9137118 WOS: A1997WX13000009


I spent times of the order of five to eight months in hospitals in New Jersey, always on an involuntary basis and always attempting a legal argument for release. And it did happen that when I had been long enough hospitalized that I would finally renounce my delusional hypotheses and revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances and return to mathematical research. In these interludes of, as it were, enforced rationality, I did succeed in doing some respectable mathematical research.

Seems like he himself is saying his research suffered while unwell and not staying in institutions.

However, the standard deficit in IQ, of it seems around 10 points, may be inconsequential in someone like Nash. Even if the executive function and memory impairments are more significant.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Where is this quote from? $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Aug 9 '19 at 12:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy