The British Journal of Psychiatry
Dermatoglyphic evidence of fluctuating asymmetry in schizophrenia.
C S Mellor


Fluctuating asymmetry provides a measure of an organism's capacity to buffer adverse factors that could disturb its development. It is estimated from the differences between theoretically identical right- and left-sided structures. Dermatoglyphic fluctuating asymmetry has been recently used to investigate developmental disorders. Fingerprints and palm prints of schizophrenic patients, which had been the subjects of an earlier report of conventional dermatoglyphic trait frequencies, were reanalysed to determine their level of fluctuating asymmetry. A review of the diagnostic protocols and clinical records used in the original study indicated that most of the 482 subjects would have met DSM-III-R criteria for schizophrenia. The schizophrenic sample had significantly higher levels of fluctuating asymmetry on four dermatoglyphic traits, the finger-ridge counts, fingerprint patterns, the palmar atd angles and palmar a-b ridge counts, than controls. This finding supports the results of two earlier studies, and its relevance to the roles of genetics, foetal insults, and developmental anomalies of the brain in the aetiology of schizophrenia is discussed.