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Psychological effects of ketamine in healthy volunteers: Phenomenological study

  • E. Pomarol-Clotet (a1), G. D. Honey (a2), G. K. Murray (a2), P. R. Corlett (a2), A. R. Absalom (a3), M. Lee (a3), P. J. McKenna (a4), E. T. Bullmore (a5) and P. C. Fletcher (a5)...
Abstract
Background

The psychosis-inducing effect of ketamine is important evidence supporting the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia. However, the symptoms the drug produces have not been described systematically.

Aim

To examine the effects of ketamine in healthy people using a structured psychiatric interview.

Method

Ketamine (200 ng/ml) or placebo was administered by continuous infusion to 15 healthy volunteers. Symptoms were rated using the Present State Examination, the Thought, Language and Communication Scale and the Scale for Assessment of Negative Symptoms.

Results

Ketamine induced a range of perceptual distortions, but not hallucinations. Referential ideas were seen in nearly half the sample. There were only mild and infrequent ratings on the thought disorder scale. Affective flattening and alogia were seen in some volunteers.

Conclusions

Ketamine does not reproduce the full picture of schizophrenia. The main point of similarity concerns referential thinking. Phenomena resembling negative symptoms are also seen, but the distinction of these from the drug's sedative effects requires further elucidation.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr P. J. McKenna, Section of Psychological Medicine, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0XH, UK. Email: peter.mckenna@virgin.net
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Declaration of interest

None.

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References
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Psychological effects of ketamine in healthy volunteers: Phenomenological study

  • E. Pomarol-Clotet (a1), G. D. Honey (a2), G. K. Murray (a2), P. R. Corlett (a2), A. R. Absalom (a3), M. Lee (a3), P. J. McKenna (a4), E. T. Bullmore (a5) and P. C. Fletcher (a5)...
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