Objective. An attempt was made in this study to establish whether in a novel and anxiety-inducing situation symptoms of cognitive disorders could be found in verbal responses of parents of children with paranoid schizophrenia.
Method. The Rorschach projective test was used, where the respondent was asked what he actually saw in the inkblots and what they resembled. Contrary to appearances, the situation of free description of stimuli devoid of connotative meaning may be stressful. The responses were analyzed using the PTI index developed by J.E. Exner to measure perception and thought disorders. Respondents were 31 couples with a child suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and 21 parental couples with a healthy child.
Result. While there were no significant intergroup differences in the total number of responses generated overall the test, parents of schizophrenic children produced significantly fewer responses adequate to the inkblots and significantly more inadequate ones, thus manifesting less precise perception. Moreover, their PTI scores were significantly higher. The latter result was due mostly to the performance of mothers of schizophrenia children. Their verbal responses differed from these of healthy children's mothers with regard not only to the perceptual aspect, but also to thinking - the former group scored higher on the so-called special scores, and used bizarre logic.
Conclusions. The parents of children with paranoid schizophrenia revealed a significantly less precise perception and scored significantly higher on the PTI index than did the parents of healthy children. While there were no significant differences between fathers in the two groups, the mothers of ill children as compared to those of healthy offspring not only had significantly higher PTI scores and less precise perception, but also revealed some peculiarity of thought processes.