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Childhood trauma and psychosis





A recent review of the North American psychiatric literature over the past 40 years concluded that potential social causes of psychosis, including schizophrenia, have been neglected in favor of the advancement of genetic and biological etiologies. [30] However, Kraeplinian conceptualizations of psychotic experiences as merely the symptoms of a disordered brain have been challenged by prominent academicians such as Richard Bentall and others who question the validity and utility of schizophrenia as a conceptual and diagnostic entity, and argue that psychotic experiences lie on a continuum with “normal” functioning and suggest that contemporary conceptualizations of “schizophrenia,” “bipolar disorder,” and associated complaints should take into account the role of adverse environmental factors. [31] Furthermore, in the last ten years there has been renewed interest and a growing body of literature examining the role of social and environmental factors in the etiology of psychosis and schizophrenia. Much of this research has specifically focused on the relationship between childhood trauma, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

A number of significant reviews of the literature examining the relationship between childhood trauma, psychosis and schizophrenia have been published in the last few years. [18],[32],[33],[34] A review by Read et al . [6] summarized research studies and examined other review papers addressing the relationship between childhood trauma, psychosis and schizophrenia. This review examined studies of psychiatric inpatients and outpatients where at least 50% were diagnosed with a psychotic condition. Studies that were included were required to have used interview protocols or questionnaire measures that specified examples of abusive acts to determine abuse, therefore chart reviews were excluded. The review produced weighted averages from 51 studies and reported that the majority of female patients (69%) reported either childhood sexual abuse (CSA) (48%) or childhood physical abuse (CPA) (48%). The majority of male patients (59%) reported either CSA (28%) or CPA (50%). The authors of this review point out that these rates are likely to be underestimates as child abuse is generally under-reported [35] especially by people who are inpatients [36],[37] and men in particular. [38] The bulk of the evidence considered in this review, however, was from studies using cross-sectional designs or uncontrolled group comparisons, which the authors concede can give us useful estimates of the prevalence of childhood trauma in clinical populations, but tell us little about whether the relationship between childhood trauma and psychosis is causal. Consequently, Read and colleagues also examined data from four large-scale studies with more sophisticated methodologies which represent a more robust test of the hypothesis that childhood trauma plays a causal role in psychosis.


Jul 8, 2009
interesting I think my schizoprenia can be related to me seeing my mother trying to commit suicide when I was juts a small boy. But what to do? the medicine I am on actually works which suggest a chemical cause but then again the imbalance could be a result of the trauma!:unsure:


Jun 7, 2009
yeah ive ofter wondered that what i basically believe is that if you suffer as a child from verbal abuse physical abuse or even sarcasm and lack of love or sacasm neglect your brain chemistry changes. i think to go from a child into an adult without ANY security is enough to blunt the emotions too. i know the way i was brought up was wrong and i was a sensitive child so while my sisters resiliance pulled her through my sensitive side made it worse for me. but i do think there is something in that.(y)