“That’s an area that seems to be working just fine in our schizophrenia patients,” Green continued. “But there’s another part of empathy where I take your perspective, or imagine myself in your situation. Our patients have a lot of trouble with that.”
That’s one reason people with schizophrenia may end up socially disconnected, isolated from friends and family. His lab has developed new treatments and training methods to address these issues. These include interventions designed for small groups of patients to improve their ability to detect emotions from facial expressions or voice tone.
Green and his colleagues are now moving into new territory, studying the causes of social isolation among people who do not have schizophrenia. A growing body of research is finding that isolation and loneliness have negative impacts on health, leading to earlier deaths. He believes the insights gained over many years of studying schizophrenia might shed light on why some people without the disease become disengaged from society.