Reduced executive function?


I am wondering about how reduced executive function plays a role in the lives of people with schizophrenia. I recently read that the wisconsin card sorting test is a sort of diagnostic tool that could potentially used to measure an impairment in executive functioning, but I am wondering more about how it plays a role in people’s day to day lives, like if there are some notable examples of it in your life.

I am diagnosed with OCD but I feel like for me (this does have to do with executive function bear with me), some of my repetitious activities or thoughts are not caused because of an obsession, but merely because its that its much more easy for me to think about something (that is in turn seen as an obsession). For example, if given the choice between activity 1 and 2, and 1 requires much more planning than 2 then doing activity 2 is much easier then I will of course pick activity 2, and repeat it. For example, surfing the internet, playing video games are examples of these things. I feel like I have always had issues planning ahead, dealing with the day to day, to the point where I will go for the “easy fix” or just take the easy route. Not that I haven’t accomplished anything, but I would be muuch more productive if I didn’t feel this way.

So I guess to clarify my question. Does anyone here with schizophrenia avoid activities that require a lot of “executive functioning” or at least find them more difficult and more stressful to accomplish?

I find that the number of steps required to plan a task is equal to the amount of time I procrastinate attempting to avoid it, and hope someone else will take over.

Did I forget to mention if accomplishing anything required using a telephone then I wont even consider doing it.

Depends on what it is. If it’s something new, I avoid it. But if it’s something I’ve at least been walked through before, I’ll give it a try. There are days I don’t want to do anything hard.
I think I get there eventually. Day One? No, I won’t do it.
Day two, I might look at it.
Day three, I will look at it a little closer
Day four, I might start to try and figure it out.

But going for the easy over is basic human nature isn’t it?

A voice in my mind has been calling me low IQ for six weeks. I was a bit afraid of taking an online test as I know they can be difficult. Just tonight said screw it I will give it a shot just to see. I got 118 which is above average. It was a good test and done at

I have a degree in math (BSc). I did some post graduate courses in 2010…but I did avoid a lot of it because of fears of being hassled by my voices as being lame. I did alright.

Overall I actually find whatever I fear I usually do much better than predicted. You feel much better when you just give things a go…there is nothing to lose

As I understand it, the Wisconsis Card Sort test measures your ability to adapt to changing rules. As the test goes on, the rules keep changing and the trick is to get the hang of the new rules instead of getting stuck in the old. The difficulties I have with executive function seem to make it harder for me to deal with conversations too, where I can’t follow the changing topics.

When I have to get something done (heaven forbid) I need to use notes, and sometimes go over beforehand the steps involved. I do this when I’m cooking.

Another thing that helps me is the idea of a “leading task.” For example if I’m going to vacuum, first I just get the vacuum out and plug it in. Sometimes when I do the dishes, first I have to get myself to approach the sink and stare at the dang things. Doing those things will often get me started.

Yep, a lot of my day is taken up with figuring out how to make things easier on myself. I have to remind myself to think about others.

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This really sounds like you and I are in the same boat. I have to give myself little cues as they whiz by on that thought wheel in my head. Getting the vacuum out and getting the garbage pail out so I can SEE how full it is helps me get around to it. I am getting used to listening in conversations. I’m told I would run up… Say what I though was important and then just leave before anyone could input. I also have to remind myself to think of others.

Another thing that I’m getting better at is questions. I would ask a question, but my flat voice would always make is sound like a statement so the verbal cue that let people know it was a question was never there. So no one would answer me and I’d get really upset by that. But now that I know it happens, I’ve been working on this.

It’s the verbal cues that I miss that is making me think of speech therapy or a speech class.

Taking the easy route is the most logical answer to any situation. Why would you spend more effort in something when you can get the same for less effort. Unless the reward is greater for the harder task, there really is no point in doing the harder task.

Executive functioning problems mostly show as memory, attention, and judgment problems. Since it’s harder for someone with these problems to do a demanding task, they are less likely to do it because the effort isn’t worth the reward. While someone without these problems will have little trouble with it and find the effort IS worth the reward.

Couple that with the horrible lack of motivation to do anything and you have the reason I spend most of my day laying in bed or on the couch literally doing nothing.

I am not sure it’s to do with executive functioning but my problem is with organising and planning. The more steps there are the harder it is for me to know how to proceed.

I am fortunate to have the non-deficit subtype of paranoid schizophrenia. I made three B’s and two A’s during my worst period of psychosis. This was because I didn’t read the whole chapters and didn’t go to class half of the time. The trade-off is having VERY strong positive symptoms; very annoying and disruptive hallucinations and delusions, and heightened cortisol (stress hormone). I had lots of trouble sleeping, it was nearly impossible some nights. I also have had high blood pressure ever since I became schizophrenic. I was an alcoholic and I used tobacco (various forms) quite heavily. The good news was that I had a very treatable case, and medication works best on people with high positive and low negative symptoms.

Reduced executive functioning is not present in all cases of schizophrenia. I feel very sorry for those who do have it, it sounds horrific.

I can understand that… I don’t pay attention so I have poor judgement, and then I don’t remember why I didn’t pay attention in the first place.

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