Does Child Abuse Contribute to the Onset of Schizophrenia?
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Does Child Abuse Contribute to the Onset of Schizophrenia?

There is clearly an excess of traumatic experience in people who experience psychosis, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions. It is believed that childhood trauma predicts the experience of hallucinations in adults, adolescents, children and patients with bipolar affective disorder. Many questions about schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses remain unanswered and the research continues.

According to the U.S. surgeon general's team of experts 1 in 5 Americans,roughly 50 million people suffer from some type of mental illness, ranging from dementia to depression to the pyschotic. This article is meant to provide insight into research studing the causes of schizophrenia.

Up until recently the prevailing belief was that the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. However with recent studies, trauma is also shown to be an important causation in the developement of schizophrenia and other conditions of psychosis.

Prominent academicians such as Richard Bentall have utilized the North American psychiatric literature over the past 40 years along with data obtained from interviews with 8580 adults from the British National Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity and found that the 60 participants who met the criteria for definite or probable psychosis were 15.5 times more likely to have been sexually abused than those who did not.

University of Manchester researcher Paul Hammersley and New Zealand clinical psychologist Dr John Read have rocked the psychiatric world by stating that child abuse is a cause of schizophrenia. Their evidence includes 40 studies, which revealed childhood or adulthood sexual or physical abuse in the history of the majority of psychiatric patients and a review of 13 studies of schizophrenics found abuse rates from a low of 51% to a high of 97%.

Their findings suggested that males who had experienced abuse were 1.3 times more likely to be treated for a "schizophrenic disorder" than the general population, with females 1.5 times more likely.

A study of 4045 adults in the Netherlands was published showing that those who had experienced very severe abuse were 48.4 times more likely to develop "Pathology level" psychosis than those who had not been abused. Those reporting moderately severe abuse were 10.6 times more likely to develop psychosis than non-abused individuals, and those reporting the least severe abuse were only 2.0 times more likely. These results add weight to the findings of previous studies which have reported that childhood trauma predicts the experience of hallucinations in adults, adolescents, children and patients with bipolar affective disorder.

If you look into the extensive research, there is clearly an excess of traumatic experience in people who experience psychosis, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions. This, however, does not mean that all cases of psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychotic conditions are caused by trauma. There are many cases that are believed to be caused by biological vulnerability.

Many questions about schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses remain unanswered. The research is ongoing.

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Comments (1)

An educational read.

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