Do individuals who have serious mental illness lack insight about their conditions?

Studies show that about half of people who have psychotic disorders lack insight about their illnesses to some degree. This is known as anosognosia. However, we know that this lack of insight is now viewed as more of a multidimensional, dynamic process. It is not simply a neurocognitive deficit.

The views that individuals have about their illnesses are shaped by social and cultural factors. These can change over time. Mental health professionals should see this issue as more than simply a need to educate patients about their conditions. You can best address insight through a dialogue that probes a range of factors that may affect how a person understands their condition.

Learn more about common myths around SMI and character. See our infographic on this topic.




  • Gilleen J, Greenwood K, David AS. Anosognosia in schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders: similarities and dierences. The Study of Anosognosia. Edited by Prigatano GP. New York, Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Belvederi Murri M, Amore M. The Multiple Dimensions of Insight in Schizophrenia-Spectrum Disorders. Schizophr Bull. 2019 Mar 7;45(2):277-283. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sby092. PMID: 29939361; PMCID: PMC6403083.
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