Attributional style in a case of Cotard delusion.

Ryan McKay, L. Cipolotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Young and colleagues (e.g. Young, A. W., & Leafhead, K. M. (1996). Betwixt life and death: case studies of the Cotard delusion. In P. W. Halligan & J. C. Marshall (Eds.), Method in madness: Case studies in cognitive neuropsychiatry. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.) have suggested that cases of the Cotard delusion (the belief that one is dead) result when a particular perceptual anomaly (caused by a disruption to the affective component of visual recognition) occurs in the context of an internalising attributional style. This hypothesis has not previously been tested directly. We report here an investigation of attributional style in a 24-year-old woman with Cotard delusion ('LU'). LU's attributional style (and that of ten healthy control participants) was assessed using the Internal, Personal and Situational Attributions Questionnaire (Kinderman, P., & Bentall, R. P. (1996). A new measure of causal locus: the internal, personal and situational attributions questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 20(2), 261'264.). LU showed a significantly greater proportion of internalising attributions than the control group, both overall and for negative events specifically. The results obtained thus support an association of Cotard delusion with an internalising attributional style, and are therefore consistent with the account of Young and colleagues. The potential brain basis of Cotard delusion is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-359
Number of pages11
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


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