"Children who experience severe forms of abuse are around three times as likely to develop schizophrenia and related psychoses in later life compared with children who do not experience such abuse, according to a study that has brought together psychiatric data from almost 80,000 people.
The results add to a growing body of evidence that childhood maltreatment or abuse can raise the risk of developing mental illnesses in adulthood, including depression, personality disorders and anxiety.
Prof Richard Bentall of the University of Liverpool's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, who led the study, showed that the risk of developing psychosis increased in line with the amount of abuse or trauma a child had gone through, with the most severely affected children having a 50-fold increased risk compared with children who had suffered no abuse. He also showed that the type of trauma experienced in childhood affected the subsequent psychiatric symptoms later in life.Echoing the view of the human givens approach, this is an interesting study that continues research into how an environment that does not meet emotional needs not only contributes to general wellbeing but can also have an effect on more severe conditions such as psychosis.
"Louise Arseneault, a senior lecturer at the IoP, said it was encouraging to know that so many different studies were coming up with similar conclusions on the relationship between childhood adversity and psychotic symptoms. "We already know that trauma and harmful experiences in childhood bring their share of difficulties, whether it is mental health or physical health problems. But it is striking that these adversities extend to mental health as disabling as psychosis, which has been thought to be highly influenced by genetic factors."Richard Bentall was interviewed nine years ago by Ivan Tyrrell in a 2003 edition of the Human Givens Journal, discussing new patient centered approaches to the understanding and treatment of psychotic illness.
The article is available to view online in our archive, read the article, 'A new look at psychosis'