Avolition: Definition & Link to Schizophrenia

Avolition: Definition & Link to Schizophrenia
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  • 0:00 What is Avolition?
  • 1:18 What is Schizophrenia?
  • 1:43 Symptoms of Schizophrenia
  • 3:13 Avolition and Schizophrenia
  • 3:54 Treatment Options
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Robin Harley

Robin has a PhD in health psychology. She has taught undergraduate and graduate psychology, health science, and health education.

Avolition can be described as the lack of will to accomplish purposeful acts, such as daily activities, goals, and desires. Watch this video lesson to learn more about avolition and its link to schizophrenia.

What Is Avolition?

Have you ever felt as though you lacked the drive to do something you wanted to accomplish? It is normal for this to happen sometimes, especially if you are tired or feeling down. However, in some people, this can become extreme and persistent. To describe these cases, we use the term avolition.

Avolition exists when a person loses the will to perform the behaviors necessary to accomplish purposeful acts, such as activities of daily living, goals, and desires. If you break the word down, you may recognize volition, which is the will and thought process that leads to deciding on and committing to certain actions. The 'a' in front of the word denotes a lack of this will.

Avolition can manifest as a reduction of physical energy and an inability to do everyday activities, such as personal hygiene, work, school, and socialization. When it becomes persistent and exists alongside other psychological symptoms, avolition is considered a feature of certain mental disorders. Therefore, this term is usually seen in psychology and psychiatry in the context of schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder.

In this lesson, we will focus only on avolition's link with schizophrenia. Let's first talk about schizophrenia and its different types of symptoms.

What Is Schizophrenia?

You have likely seen depictions of schizophrenia in movies. It is a genetic psychological disorder characterized by disorganized thought, confusion about reality, hallucinations, and delusions. It also includes reduced socialization, emotions, and activity. The disorder occurs in approximately 1% of the general population, but this percentage skyrockets up to 10% if it already exists in a family.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Typically, schizophrenia's symptoms are broken down into positive symptoms and negative symptoms.

The positive symptoms can be thought of as added symptoms or behaviors. In other words, these are symptoms that people without schizophrenia (or other disorders) are unlikely to experience. Positive symptoms may include:

  • Psychosis, which is a loss of touch with reality
  • Hallucinations, particularly when it comes to vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch
  • Delusions, or false beliefs, including paranoia
  • Disorganized or confused thought
  • Neologisms, which refers to disorganized and random speech patterns that can include made-up words

Many of these symptoms can occur with other psychological disorders, but there are particular methods of assessment and criteria for the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The negative symptoms can be thought of as deficits in thoughts and behaviors that are considered normal. They are often described with the terms 'lack of' or 'reduced.' Negative symptoms often include:

  • Flat affect, or the lack of emotion and emotional expression
  • Anhedonia, which is the lack of pleasure and interest in previously enjoyed pursuits
  • Amotivation, or a reduced drive and desire to participate in social or other activities
  • Lack of desire to speak
  • Avolition, which we now know is a lack of will or drive to perform the behaviors necessary to accomplish purposeful acts, such as the activities of daily living, goals, and desires

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