More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Schizophrenia and Sarcasm
Monday, August 07, 2006
by John Gale

The concept of Theory of Mind refers to the ability to work out another person's mental state based upon 'interactional information' - the situation, their body language, tone of voice etc. Theory of Mind deficits (i.e. the inability to work out other people's thoughts and feelings) have been linked to autism and schizophrenia, both conditions in which sufferers have difficulty understanding meaning in social situations. There has been some interest lately in whether sarcasm can be used to assess people's Theory of Mind, the idea being that people with a poor Theory of Mind are unable to tell when people are being genuine or sarcastic from their intonation. Researchers in New York State played 39 people - 22 of whom had schizophrenia - a series of phrases. Half the time these were read out straightforwardly and half the time they were read out in a sarcastic fashion. The researchers found that despite being equally intelligent the people with schizophrenia found it much harder to tell when people were being sarcastic or not.

Leitman, David I. ... [et al] - Theory of Mind (ToM) and counterfactuality deficits in schizophrenia : misperception or misinterpretation ? Psychological Medicine August 2006, 36(8), 1075-1083


My dad must have been schizophenic then. Whenever I was perfectly sincere, he would accuse me of being sarcastic. Or at the very least, facetious.
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