European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 309–318 | Cite as

Interpersonal sensitivity and persistent attenuated psychotic symptoms in adolescence

  • Alice Masillo
  • M. Brandizzi
  • L. R. Valmaggia
  • R. Saba
  • N. Lo Cascio
  • J. F. Lindau
  • L. Telesforo
  • P. Venturini
  • D. Montanaro
  • D. Di Pietro
  • M. D’Alema
  • P. Girardi
  • P. Fiori Nastro
Original Contribution


Interpersonal sensitivity defines feelings of inner-fragility in the presence of others due to the expectation of criticism or rejection. Interpersonal sensitivity was found to be related to attenuated positive psychotic symptom during the prodromal phase of psychosis. The aims of this study were to examine if high level of interpersonal sensitivity at baseline are associated with the persistence of attenuated positive psychotic symptoms and general psychopathology at 18-month follow-up. A sample of 85 help-seeking individuals (mean age = 16.6, SD = 5.05) referred an Italian early detection project, completed the interpersonal sensitivity measure and the structured interview for prodromal symptoms (SIPS) at baseline and were assessed at 18-month follow-up using the SIPS. Results showed that individuals with high level of interpersonal sensitivity at baseline reported high level of attenuated positive psychotic symptoms (i.e., unusual thought content) and general symptoms (i.e., depression, irritability and low tolerance to daily stress) at follow-up. This study suggests that being “hypersensitive” to interpersonal interactions is a psychological feature associated with attenuated positive psychotic symptoms and general symptoms, such as depression and irritability, at 18-month follow-up. Assessing and treating inner-self fragilities may be an important step of early detection program to avoid the persistence of subtle but very distressing long-terms symptoms.


Interpersonal sensitivity Ultra-high-risk Negative affective states Psychosis Adolescents 



Our special thanks go to all the staff and service users of ASL Rome H Community Mental Health Services and Child and Adolescents Mental Health Services. The present study did not receive any specific financial support. Sapienza University of Rome provided a PhD scholarship for two authors (AM, MB) and allowed other trainees in Psychiatry (JFL, LT, PV) to spend part of their training working for the present study; Rome H Mental Health Department supported this study by organizing clinical supervision on the early detection work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1964 and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice Masillo
    • 1
  • M. Brandizzi
    • 1
  • L. R. Valmaggia
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. Saba
    • 1
  • N. Lo Cascio
    • 1
  • J. F. Lindau
    • 1
  • L. Telesforo
    • 4
  • P. Venturini
    • 4
  • D. Montanaro
    • 5
  • D. Di Pietro
    • 5
  • M. D’Alema
    • 5
  • P. Girardi
    • 4
  • P. Fiori Nastro
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine and Odontology, Department of Neurology and PsychiatrySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, King’s College LondonInstitute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceLondonUK
  3. 3.South London and Maudsley NHS TrustLondonUK
  4. 4.Neurosciences, Mental Health and Sensory Functions (NESMOS) Department, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sant’Andrea HospitalSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  5. 5.Community Mental Health ServiceASL Rome HRomeItaly

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