September 05, 2004

Past Abuse Common Factor in Psychotic Disorders

A UK research team reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry (2004:185:220-226) that psychosis is more common among people who have a significant number of traumatizing events in their past. The findings were based on a data analysis the 2nd British National Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity.

The team concluded that such negative social events may play a role in the development of psychotic symptoms. In reality, it's difficult to determine cause and effect - perhaps the characteristics of psychosis bring about traumatizing events as a result, or perhaps people with psychosis report hallucinations they experience as real events.

According to the data, the most common trauma experienced by those with psychosis was sexual abuse, followed by being institutionalized during childhood, running away from home, being homeless, or being taken into local authority care.

However, as there does seem to be some correlation between social trauma and psychosis, healthcare providers should put an emphasis on cognitive-behavioral therapy for these patients to address such early trauma events.

For the full article, please see "Psychosis emerges in people subjected to victimizing events" (Sept 3 2004) at


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