What data are recorded regarding patient thought content during a Mental Status Examination (MSE)?

Updated: Sep 24, 2020
  • Author: Jeffrey S Forrest, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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To determine whether or not a patient is experiencing hallucinations, ask some of the following questions. "Do you hear voices when no one else is around?" “Do these voices seem to come from outside of your head, so that you turn to look and see who is talking?” "Can you see things that no one else can see?" "Do you have other unexplained sensations such as smells, sounds, or feelings?" It should be noted that simple historians may confuse their own actual thoughts for auditory hallucinations, and this should therefore be carefully scrutinized.

Importantly, always ask about command-type hallucinations and inquire what the patient will do in response to these commanding hallucinations. For example, ask "When the voices tell you do something, do you obey their instructions or ignore them?" Types of hallucinations include auditory (hearing things), visual (seeing things), gustatory (tasting things), tactile (feeling sensations), and olfactory (smelling things).

To determine if a patient is having delusions, ask some of the following questions. "Do you have any thoughts that other people think are strange?" "Do you have any special powers or abilities?" "Does the television or radio give you special messages?" Types of delusions include grandiose (delusions of grandeur), religious (delusions of special status with God), persecution (belief that someone wants to cause them harm), erotomanic (belief that someone famous is in love with them), jealousy (belief that everyone wants what they have), thought insertion (belief that someone is putting ideas or thoughts into their mind), and ideas of reference (belief that relatively ordinary or commonplace phenomenon are referring specifically to them). Patient's perceptions are an important part of this evaluation

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