Nov 10, 2010

Child Abuse & Psychosis: a link?

There is a growing recognition that having a difficult or traumatic childhood can increase the likelihood of people developing psychosis later in life but it is difficult to untangle what types of trauma or abuse are linked to an increased risk. A team of researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK, looked into this in a study of 428 people, 182 of whom had psychosis. The researchers asked people about difficulties and problems in their childhood and found that people with psychosis were three times more likely to report severe physical abuse by their mother before they were 12. There was also some - although not statistically significant - evidence that 'severe maternal antipathy' was linked to an increased risk of psychosis. However, paternal maltreatment and other forms of adversity were not linked to an increased risk of psychosis.

This is another important study the implications of which are that child abuse is a major public health issue with significant implications for later functioning. The Adverse Child Experiences research by the US Centers for Disease Control also point in the same direction. The ACE's studies clearly demonstrate that adverse childhood experiences result in later significant health difficulties, among other problems.

Fisher, H.L. ... [et al] - The varying impact of type, timing and frequency of exposure to childhood adversity on its association with adult psychotic disorder Psychological Medicine (2010), 40, 1967–1978

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