Now, doctors say they’ve uncovered the roots of schizophrenics’ lethargy: “Inaccuracy in estimating how difficult an effortful goal would be.” Confronted with a task, they seem to underestimate the pleasure they’d get out of it and overestimate the amount of effort required to accomplish it.
But there’s a trick to solving the problem. Break the effort into smaller, easier chunks. They give an exercise example: Don’t tell somebody to lose weight, tell them to walk a little more each day. “That’s something we would do for everyone else, but it might have been avoided in patients with schizophrenia because we thought they weren’t experiencing as much pleasure from their activities as they actually are,” Gard said. “We can help them to identify things that are pleasurable and reward them toward larger goals.”
Source: Gard D, Sanchez A, et al. Do People With Schizophrenia Have Difficulty Anticipating Pleasure, Engaging in Effortful Behavior, or Both? Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 2014.
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