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Over the past decades, research has suggested the existence of a psychosis continuum ranging from psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in the general population to psychotic symptoms in patients with affective and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Especially individuals interested in esoterism were more often reported having experienced PLEs. However, there is little information on the extent of PLEs in this subculture. The aim of this study was to assess the extent of PLEs in a non-clinical population with interest in esoterism by means of an anonymized clinically used screening questionnaire.The 16-item version of the Prodromal Questionnaire (PQ-16), a self-report screening questionnaire assessing the presence of PLEs was administered to individuals with interest in esoterism (IE) and a control group without interest in esoterism (NI).The sample included 402 individuals. 224 subjects (55.7%) reported interest in esoterism and 178 subjects (44.3%) showed no such interest. In an ANCOVA, interest in esoterism was shown to have a significant impact on the PQ-16 score (<0.001). Also, age (p=0.022) and the interaction between age and interest in esoterism had a significant impact on the PQ-16 score (p=0.004). Specifically, younger individuals interested in esoterism showed increased PQ-16 scores, whereas scores decreased with increasing age. In individuals without interest in esoterism, age had no relevant impact on the score.Younger individuals interested in esoterism seem to be more prone to reporting psychotic-like experiences compared to individuals without interest in esoterism and compared to their older counterparts.

Original publication




Journal article


Schizophrenia research

Publication Date



Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Clinical Division of Social Psychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Electronic address: