June 16, 2006

Schizophrenia Usually Caused by Child Abuse? Proof Lacking

There are a couple of psychologists who think that child abuse is a significant cause, if not the major cause, of schizophrenia and began strongly publicizing this theory recently. However main-stream schizophrenia researchers say that there are no rigorous studies that support this theory.

Increasingly however, leading psychiatric researchers have told us that they think it is likely that child abuse is one type of stress and trauma (of many) that is a contributing factor in schizophrenia (especially for people biologically or genetically predisposed) - though as yet there is no definitive long term studies that have proven this. (leading, mainstream researchers have told us of recent (fall, 2006) unpublished studies where the data supports the theory that child abuse can be a factor in risk for developing schizophrenia, but it is unlikely to be a factor in "most" or "many" cases of schizophrenia).

Research is showing that children's and adolescent's brains are very sensitive to stress - and children exposed to ongoing or frequent stress can suffer significant brain damage.

Additionally, research supports the idea that social stress and family stress can be a causal factor in development of schizophrenia for people who are biologically or genetically predisposed. Therefore it is reasonable to suspect that child abuse could significantly increase the risk of schizophrenia for a child predisposed to schizophrenia (and certainly child abuse - including neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse - is very harmful and has a lasting negative impact on a child's mental health), but there is no rigorous evidence to support Hammersley and Read's theory that child abuse causes a significant portion or "the majority" of cases of schizophrenia.

Following is detail on the theory and an analysis on what we believe are the errors that the psychologists have made in developing their theory:

Drs. Paul Hammersley (University of Manchester) and John Read (University fo Aukland, NZ) argue that two-thirds of people diagnosed as schizophrenic have suffered physical or sexual abuse and thus believe it is shown to be a major, if not the major, cause of the illness. With a proven [see analysis of this "proof" below] connection between the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, they say, many schizophrenic symptoms are actually caused by trauma.

They suggest that their evidence includes 40 studies [see analysis and flaws identified in using these 40 studies below], which they think 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 [that they think] found abuse rates from a low of 51% to a high of 97%. Psychiatric patients who report abuse are much more likely to experience hallucinations – flashbacks which have become part of the schizophrenic experience and hallucinations or voices that bully them as their abuser did thus causing paranoia and a mistrust of people close to them.

They admit not all schizophrenics suffered trauma and not all abused people develop the illness, but believe less traumatic childhood maltreatment, rather than actual abuse, may be an important difference. In their review of the 33,648 studies conducted into the causes of schizophrenia between 1961 and 2000, they found that less than 1% was spent on examining the impact of parental care. Still, they say, there have been enough studies to suggest negative or confusing early care may be an important addition to abuse as a cause.

Genes may still have a role to play but other evidence Hammersley and Read cite shows that genes alone do not cause the illness. A recent study compared 56 adoptees born to schizophrenic mothers with 96 adoptees whose biological parents did not have the illness. The families were observed extensively when the children were small and all the adoptees were assessed for psychiatric illness in adulthood. It was found that if there was a high genetic risk and it was combined with mystifying care during upbringing, the likelihood of developing schizophrenia was greater - genes alone did not cause the illness.

In response to this theory - leading experts in schizophrenia have said the following: (from New Scientist Magazine)

"Mainstream psychiatrists are not impressed [with the theory of child abuse causing a majority of schizophrenia cases]. "There are no methodologically robust studies showing that schizophrenia is caused by childhood abuse," says Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry. "The strongest predictor of schizophrenia is a family history of the disorder."

Peter McGuffin, also at the institute, warns that refocusing on abuse risks a return to the 1960s "when it was fashionable to blame the parents for 'causing' schizophrenia". "A hazard is that it demonises the family," he says."

Following is a more indepth-analysis of the review article in which the the theory was recently proposed:

Childhood trauma, psychosis and schizophrenia: a literature review with theoretical and clinical implications (pubmed summary of article)

Schizophrenia Research Reviews, By Demian Rose, MD, PhD - a review of the article:


Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disease for which no clear cause is known. Historically, many theories have been put forth to explain its genesis. During the middle part of the 20th century, one popular theory was that of the “schizophrenogenic mother”, which postulated that schizophrenia was a result of an upbringing wherein a child was given “consistently inconsistent” parenting, leading to a difficulty with discerning reality from fantasy. This theory was rightly condemned as an oversimplified explanation, and subsequently discarded.

The question of how one’s early developmental experiences influence the expression of mental illness remains, however, an area of vigorous academic debate. With the primacy of the so-called biopsychosocial model of psychiatry over the past several decades, this debate has moved away from a strictly “nature vs. nurture” paradigm to one that respects the intertwined nature of genes, environment and behavior. It is clear that environmental experiences literally reshape our brains. It therefore seems likely that this reshaping process could lead a vulnerable individual to develop a disorder that he or she would not have developed if the circumstances had been different.

While this conceptualization of mental illness is generally accepted by the field, we are still without much experimental data to describe the degree to which such factors influence specific disorders, or the mechanisms by which brain changes might occur. This review article attempts to synthesize many studies on childhood abuse (sexual and physical) and come to a conclusion about the relative causality of such early experiences with regards to schizophrenia.

Who did the review: The first author of this review is a psychologist in New Zealand who has previously published books and papers relating to childhood abuse and has also designed programs meant to improve the ability of mental health care providers to ask about and assess patient trauma histories.

Why they did the review: The authors of this review clearly have an agenda. To be fair, they are quite open about this agenda, and claim that the data will support it. In short, what the authors wish to convey is that:

(1) current conceptions of schizophrenia as a brain illness, as opposed to one with a large psychological component, have garnered too much sway in modern psychiatry,

(2) in assuming schizophrenia is “biological”, psychiatrists often overlook the possibility of early trauma as a causal factor and

(3) psychiatry will often attribute psychosis due to trauma as “non-psychotic” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), instead of calling a duck a duck, i.e. in their view correctly diagnosing trauma-induced psychosis as schizophrenia.

What they investigated: The authors present a literature review that summarizes several dozen research studies that examined the relationship between childhood abuse and psychiatric disorders or other mental health outcomes. They summarize studies that show a relationship between child abuse and “schizophrenic symptoms” in Table 3. Most of their discussion relates to this data set, and the casual reader could get the “gist” of this article by reading its first page, last page and the text relating to Table 3.

What they argue: The authors make a strong claim. They assert that “child abuse is a causal factor for psychosis and schizophrenia”. They use this claim as the basis of their recommendation that “researchers and clinicians should routinely ask about childhood trauma when trying to understand or assist people diagnosed as psychotic or schizophrenic”. [italics mine]

In essence, the authors attempt to provide support for the argument that psychiatry and psychology have been ignoring the “social” basis of psychosis. They further argue that this problem is worst for schizophrenia itself, with many clinicians often ignoring social and psychological factors that could be important in its genesis.

The Take Home Message: I was frankly a bit angered by the authors’ consistent usage of schizophrenia as synonymous with hallucinations.

This point bears repeating: the authors consistently use the terms psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia and schizophrenia in a manner different from that of most researchers.

In my opinion, this consistent misuse of terminology was essentially a verbal shell game that allowed the authors to use each term as it benefited their own hypotheses. For example, they seem to ignore the fact that their own summary tables, while supporting a correlation between early abuse and hallucinations, do not suggest a link between childhood trauma and negative and cognitive symptoms, important aspects in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. In another example, they describe hallucinations and paranoia as “schizophrenic symptoms”, instead of correctly describing them as “symptoms commonly (but not always) seen in schizophrenia”. As a review that tries to integrate data from the past 100 years, a profound semantic flaw that the authors do not address is the fact that the definition of schizophrenia as a psychiatric disorder has evolved much over the past century. Even the term “psychosis” was for the first half of this century used to refer to a theoretical construct that has since been shown to have no supporting data.

The authors are technically honest at certain times in the article, such as when they admit that “our paper may have more implications for the occurrence of psychosis in other illnesses [than schizophrenia]”. But my overall feeling was of being hoodwinked from the very beginning, with the authors cleverly using the word schizophrenia in quotes within their first summation point. One must dig through the text to later find that they are referring not to the current diagnostic criteria for the disease, but rather to data such as the “schizophrenia scale”, part of a commonly given personality test that is typically not used diagnostically, or to their own conception of the “schizophrenia construct” (whatever that means).

I did find some of the authors’ points thought-provoking and possibly even clinically useful – e.g., I agree that clinicians often assume that childhood abuse must lead to PTSD and probably therefore at times “forget” about schizophrenia. But taken as a whole, their argument that “child abuse is associated with severe mental illness and psychotic symptoms, and since schizophrenia is a severe mental illness with psychotic symptoms, it is likely due to child abuse” is unsupported by the data that the authors themselves present as supportive. In my mind, the authors confuse the issue instead of clarifying it.

Allow me to summarize some points that the authors should have made clear:

- Psychosis is a non-specific term that describes a group of symptoms that broadly demonstrate a “break with external reality”. The commonly described psychotic symptoms are: hallucinations, paranoia, grossly disorganized thinking or behavior, and catatonia (severely restricted movement). Given the authors misuse of the term psychosis, it is worth stressing that

1) it is not a singular “thing”, but rather a group of broadly similar phenomena and

2) the presence of psychosis alone does not define schizophrenia.

- Other than representing break with reality, there is little scientific data linking the mechanisms of each separate psychotic symptom together. In other words, people can have one, several or all of the commonly described psychotic symptoms, and this can change over time.

- Schizophrenia is a syndrome that describes a number of symptoms occurring together in the same person, both psychotic symptoms, as well as other non-psychotic symptoms such as poor attention and concentration and social withdrawal.

- There is strong genetic evidence suggesting that schizophrenia runs in families and is part of a genetic continuum involving less severe but similar disorders such as schizotypal personality disorder.

- There are several examples of other mental illness syndromes that are associated with child abuse and psychotic symptoms. These include depression, PTSD and borderline personality disorder. As far as we know, these syndromes are genetically and epidemiologically unrelated to schizophrenia.

- Therefore, I believe that the authors overstate the causal relationship between child abuse and schizophrenia by equating psychosis, specifically hallucinations, with the syndrome of schizophrenia itself.

More Information on Related Topic:

Commentary on by Ben Picard: Nurture States its Case

Child Abuse and Schizophrenia

Family Social Stress and Schizophrenia

Google Scholar Search (Recent reseach on): Schizophrenia and Child Abuse


I became a schizophrenic when I was 16 and childhood abuse was the casuatic factor in my disease. I had a very traumatic childhood and I do not care what the psychologists and anybody else says about schizophrenia not being caused by childhood abuse. For me it is a living reality and I am a living proof that schizophrenia is caused by extreme mental torture and childhood abuse

Posted by: Faizan at June 16, 2006 08:07 PM

I have schizophrenia too and suffered from childhood abuse. I asked my pdoc about this theory and he said I wouldn't find it helpful to think about it this way as opposed to saying it was rubbish. Since sz has shown to be from brain abnormality and when you are abused as a child you also have abnormal brain development I don't think this theory is totally out of the ball park.

Posted by: Qi at June 17, 2006 11:58 AM

this disease does not have to be caused by abuse there r other things that can get to the brain and mess it up so people see things and stuff

Posted by: jessica at June 17, 2006 12:49 PM


The research suggests that child abuse could be a contributing factor in schizophrenia - but the psychologist is saying that "a majority of schizophrenia cases are caused by child abuse" - and for that claim, there is no rigorous evidence.

As Jessica mentioned - there are a lot of different environmental factors that have been linked to schizophrenia - and the increased risk of developing schizophrenia seems to usually start with a genetic or biological predisposition - and then other environmental factors increase the liklihood of developing schizophrenia. Child abuse seems likely to be a risk factor - but there are likely quite a few risk factors.


Posted by: szadmin at June 17, 2006 01:59 PM

For the record. The debate held at the Institute of Psychiatry on´"Child abuse is a cause of schizophrenia" resulted in: FOR - 114, AGAINST - 52, ABSTENTIONS - 16. This was after hearing the research evidence and a determined attempt to discredit that evidence (along the lines of the ananymous reviewer of our work above). We hope that as a result of the growing evidence in support of what patients have been tryng to tell us for decades, more will be asked about what has gone on intheir lives and that psychiatrists will finally start listening properly.

Posted by: John Read at June 18, 2006 01:55 AM

Apologies - the review of our work was not anonymous, or even "ananymous" - John

Posted by: John Read at June 18, 2006 01:58 AM

In re-reading my review, I notice that I do not stress enough that I find the clinical points made by the authors very valid. Trauma is certainly a powerful influence on many severe mental disorders. I also agree that clinicians often under utilize historical information that could increase empathy and understanding when treating schizophrenia.

My major concern was not that I feel abuse is unrelated to schizophrenia - quite the contrary. What bothered me was the conflation of non-specific psychosis with the syndrome of schizophrenia. From a research perspective, using these things interchangeably makes it extremely difficult to investigate any of the specific causal aspects at the intersection of childhood trauma and genetic or familial predisposition.

Posted by: D Rose at June 18, 2006 08:46 AM

[In my opinion] Abuse is a big cause of mental illness.Abusers are often protected by a psychiatric system that will seek to turn the victim into a bad person who can find salvation if he or she mends his or her ways.

The actual traumas that have lead someone to a position of poor mental health are often flippantly brushed aside in the quest to make the victim of abuse a model of what society expects them to be with the therapist or psychiatrist seeking to position himself as Henry Higgins and the client as Eliza Doolitle.

The thinking is very much 'If you will learn to wear appropriate clothes you will not get raped' rather than 'That was an horrific experience and we are here to help you cope with the emotional fall out'

Posted by: James at June 19, 2006 04:15 AM

again, this is one way of interpreting data, and not one i agree with personally. i do not feel abuse causes mental illness, and i do not feel it's a causal factor, one step from that is blaming people who don't leave the abusive situation because they 'should realize it's bad for people and leave'. however, it's quite obvious to me that in some families, there is very poor care and treatment of children, and i feel that this disease is caused by biological factors, and that often times parents have an illness too, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, and treat their children very badly. however i look at mri's and scans of schizophrenics and have concluded that the only time the disease could start is well before birth and well before any abuse. however....i feel abuse and mistreatment is just another added burden on a person already facing challenges of an illness, and that it most definitely affects the OUTCOME of the illness. the people i know who have faced the toughest times with schizophrenia...are the people who were in very poor family situations.


Posted by: susan at June 20, 2006 09:51 AM

To say that abuse does not cause mental illness is quite frankly plain dumb.

I would have expected more intelligent comment from you Susan.
Or do you really mean to say 'abuse does not cause schizophrenia'.
Although such a comment would still be somewhat debatable as to it's accuracy it pails in terms of ludicrousness against claims that abuse does not cause mental illness period.

I know you mean well but please be careful Susan not to spread misinformation.

Posted by: James at June 20, 2006 02:13 PM

hi i have schizoprenia n i need help.

Posted by: sarah-jo woods at June 21, 2006 04:54 PM

i am entitled to my opinion james, and so i are you. i do not call what you write 'dumb', i expect the same courtesy from you. it is not misinformation as at this point, with the cause of schizophrenia unknown, it is purely an opinion as to what the cause is. in my lifetime, the opinion has gone from 'abuse' to 'biological' to 'abuse' and back again. it is an opinion. you are able to go out and find studies and authors and statistics to back either position.

the authors of the paper are said to be convinced abuse is the cause of mental illness, though some quotes say it's a 'factor' or 'important' not a cause.

i feel that abuse does not cause mental illness, even traumatic abuse. i feel that schizophrenia is a developmental disorder, and i have found many studies and quite a few experts who share that opinion. there are other things that are involved, because not everyone who is abused develops mental illnesses like schizophrenia. abuse occurs after birth, much of the brain changes seen in schizophrenia would have to occur well before birth.

at the same time, i still feel family conditions have a huge influence on the outcome of this illness. people i know with this illness who live in bad family conditions have an extra tough time of it. some i feel have not gotten treatment and support that would have had a very positive outcome on the course of their illness.


Posted by: slc at June 22, 2006 03:04 PM

the assertion that schiz is caused by abuse has led to horrible consequences. my friend tried to murder his father because a counselor convinced him of this. in college, the prevailing opinion in some circles in the USA was that abuse was the cause of mental illness, and where no abuse had occured in the family, the teachers attempted to convince us that presenting a child with two different colored shirts as a gift would cause later schizophrenia to develop. even the teachers couldn't believe it themselves, one told me after class, 'i know this is total rubbish'.

Posted by: slc at June 22, 2006 03:24 PM

Sir, Drs.Hammersely and Read say that 2/3rd of the schizophrenics have faced physical and sexual abuse. Is their any baseline scale by which they measured these abuses? For example is sexual abuse means only forced coitus or forced Breast fondling and kisses or other genital handling?No one in the world can escape physical or some sort of forced kiss in childhood. It is also horrible to surmise these abuses occur through parents only.

My contention is how a child takes these abuses and REACTS TO THESE ABUSES is more important than the abuse itself. For example whether they could confide about the abuse to their friend or parents or someone.if they kept it to themselves then the problem starts.For example my daughter and my friends daughter were both sexually abused when they were 5 years old by a servant boy who was 15 years old.

My friends daughter told her parents about the abuse and i came to know the incident from my friend and NOT FROM my daughter. The friends daughter is normal today while my daughter is schizophrenic.

The FEAR which the servant created in my daughter was suppressed while my friends daughter could come out of it and tell the truth to her parents.The GUILT/FEAR WHICH is SUPPRESSED MAY be a cause in an indirectway.

A very pertinent point is made by one reviewer that the brain changes which manifest in a schizophrenic happens in womb itself not after birth.

The psychiatrists/psychologists have to find a REASON FOR not curing their sick and FAMILY is the easiest scapegoat.

I ask all those doing research on schizophrenia to read CAREFULLY
St.Mathew 17 verses 15 to 21. Why the disciples could not cure only MENTALLY ILL(believed to be possesed by devils in biblical times) and cure all other disceases. Why? The researchers have to enter this discease with lot of AWE.

Posted by: captainjohann at June 24, 2006 08:38 AM

Captain johann,

The research that was reviewed by Drs. Hammersely and Read is research that has taken place over many decades - with about 40 different studies evaluated - so there is no baseline scale as for "abuse" as you've asked about.

More importantly, however, the suggestions you make are very similar to ones that the psychologists and psychiatrists have made - and they are in essence, consistent with what you are saying (in a very general sense).

How a child interprets the environment and happenings around them is extremely important in their mental health. If people interpret events in a way where they judge themselves to be the cause of their misfortune or abuse, or if they greatly mis-interpret the risk that they may face fearful situations again - it can make someone very anxious, or very depressed - which are types of social stress - which have been linked to many mental health problems, including deep clinical depression, and schizophrenia.

There are a number of very good books on this topic - that you can find under under our Recommended Books section - under "Preventing Schizophrenia." The fields of "emotional intelligence" and "learned optimism" are focused on these types of issues that you've pointed out.

The good news is that research is now suggesting that parents can help a great deal in making children more resilient to life challenges and stresses - by how they teach the child to interpret things, and work with the child to gently guide and correct mistakes in thinking. By helping children learn more optimistic thinking approaches researchers suggest children will more resilient to stress, and less likely to develop mental health problems.

In summary - your suspicions are being validated by research, but the research is also showing that if parents learn about the new techniques they can help children learn to deal with their fears and guilts in a way that encourages mental health, rather than that increases the risk of mental health problems.

This is relatively new research that has just come out in the past 10 years or so - so its most valuable to families where children are young or yet to be born - but for any family that has a history of mental illness - these new books could prove vital for preventing additional instances of mental illness.

Posted by: Sz Administrator at June 25, 2006 12:14 PM

This really disturbs me. At what age do you consider a child when the average age is 15yr some say 13yr of developing schizophrenia are these ages not children? And if they are not considered children than lets study what caused there schizophrenia OH that’s right they are in the 1% population so now we can say the wind might have been blowing the wrong way- that’s what triggered it. Child abuse is an awful thing and I don’t doubt it can be a trigger but first and far most you have to be born with it and I truly believe you are destined to get it some time in your life if you are BORN with it. If we concentrate to much on this issue we take away the research that is so greatly needed two examples ONE is my son it took a excellent doctor to tell us to rule out PANDAS and this is what my son is being treated for, he is now off antipsychotics and doing very well. Another example is a dear woman at my support group her 9yr adopted child is experiencing psychosis I have to say psychosis because even though both of his biological parents have schizophrenia doctors are still afraid to say her child has it, with that example in my opinion it is genetic.
And I have to ask who believes who a person with psychosis can believe aliens are raping them (all due respect) maybe we should ask Tom Cruise.

Posted by: linda at June 26, 2006 08:38 AM

In facile analysis, the finger of blame will always be pointed at the parent. What? You didn't abuse your child? Well, you must have mystified him or her. Or you must have failed to inculcate a sufficiently optimistic attitude in your offspring... And so it goes on. As the father of a woman who slid into psychosis at university, I am familiar with all these lines. Sure, I "mystified" her. I hung a Raymond Ching portrait of Kiri Te Kanawa in my hallway. That's why Tessa (not her real name) developed the delusion she was Kiri's daughter, and was being stalked by Machiavellian martial-arts afficionados. Give me a break. - nzsf.com

Posted by: Alan Ireland at July 15, 2006 01:49 AM

In 'Schizophrenia' Is Not an Illness, the first chapter of Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia, John Read, Loren R. Mosher and Richard P. Bentall write (P3) that they "have not attempted an even-handed, 'objective' approach", and claim that "What is required, after a hundred years or more of the dominance of an approach that is unsupported scientifically and unhelpful in practice, is a balancing stance rather than a balanced one". But what is a work that adopts a "balancing stance", if it is not a polemic? And what is a polemic, if it is not a work of propaganda? And what is propaganda, if it is not a product of ideology?

Posted by: Alan Ireland at July 15, 2006 02:28 AM

Last year, nearly 10 years after she was discharged from hospital, my daughter graduated with a BA in psychology. "What did you write in your final exam on the subject of schizophrenia?" I asked her - knowing that she had been marked incorrect when, in an assignment, she had said something in favour of compulsory treatment with anti-psychotic medication "in some cases". (It was flupenthixol, administered compulsorily, that had brought her out of psychosis.) "I told them what I knew they wanted to hear," she replied.

What does that say about our universities? - nzsf.com

Posted by: Alan Ireland at July 15, 2006 02:50 AM

The problem, I think, is that the psychology departments of our universities have been "captured" by latter-day disciples of R.D. Laing, who simply do not believe there is such a phenomenon as schizophrenia (which is why they superciliously place the word in quotation marks). "The obvious fact," they say, is that "people are driven crazy by bad things happening to them" (Read, et al., in Models of Madness). So if someone like my daughter starts thinking her mother is a famous opera singer, she must have been deeply wounded by life. Yes, one psychologist, in an email to me, has presumptuously referred to Tessa's "wounds" - because psychological wounds are, according to this theory, a sine qua non of "schizophrenia". Of course, none of this would matter a great deal if the psychology departments of universities were not churning out graduates who, in some cases, go on to work in the mental health field, where they can greatly add to the difficulties one has in having a loved one committed. One can find oneself - as I found myself in late 1995 - in a truly desperate situation, only to be confronted by sugary condescension, and blithe suggestions that all could be resolved through some sort of family conference. Largely, because of this attitude, I was not able to get Tessa into hospital, and ensure she stayed there, until she was at the point of total collapse. And by "collapse", I don't mean having a few funny ideas; I mean having hallucinations, seizures and blackouts.

Posted by: Alan Ireland at July 15, 2006 07:52 PM

Hi, I was reading about the schizophrenia causes and symtoms....Let me start off by saying that i am a 24 white female in california who has schizophrenia...I was first diagnosed as a bi-polar manic depressant....then i ended up going for another opinion and they had me take a schiaophrenic test asking questions that i could relate to......but none regarding child abuse!
I believer that child abuse physically,mentally and emotionally can play a role in developing schizophrenia.
as a child i was Physically abused no mentioning any names and i was sexualy abused by 4 people...i remember that i was isolated from people and was emotionally scared of what would happen had these people been caught for what they have done.
I remember thinking that my parents didnt love me and i ranaway many times in a month....By the time i was 15 whenever my heart would feel pain i was slicing my rist with knives and was going to counseling 3 times a week....then i was 21 and i was smoking cigs and i was doing drugs.......i would catch myself doing actions that i wouldnt normally do like threating people who i love and hurting myself....i would be laying in bed with the door locked and hearing whispering in my closet that was very faint to hear....i started to believe that people were following and watching me whenever i went out.....and that some were trying to hurt me.....i even thought my own family was against me....i would be sleeping and i would hear my name outloud and nobody would be there when i looked.....I felt like something was controlling my mind and my thoughts....I also thought that people could hear everything that the voices were saying...and that they could read my mind.....which made me very isolated to public......But from all this that i have experienced i think mainly started from my childhood......so indeed i think child abuse is a factor.

Posted by: Mia Star at July 31, 2006 05:00 AM

thank you for this interesting article it is helping me with a school project.

Posted by: cami at August 29, 2006 01:00 PM

Comment on you article on child abuse and schizophrenia, having delt with this, in a relitive, I must tell you my thoughts, you have it backwards, schizophrenia causes child abuse. lack of education on the subject, because it appeats as a behavior problem . most parents cannot distinguish between the 2. Also children show signs early in life, and are difficulty to deal with.

Posted by: Judy at August 31, 2006 07:58 PM

I am a female diagnosed with PTSD, major depression, and schizophrenia. My trauma is rape in the military. I feel that the trauma caused my paranoid thoughts and extreme ways of coping. I have not heard voices or had hallucinations.

Please do more research concerning PTSD and schizophrenia before rejecting the connection between them.

Posted by: Debra at September 28, 2006 02:53 PM

I am a schizophrenic that was diagnosed at the age of 16, and there are no traces of schizophernia in family besides myself, who is the only one who has developed schizophernia. Abuse onsetting this disease is something i have believed for a very long time, as i had a tramatic childhood that niether my brother or sister had because i wasn't accepted because i was physically "different" in the fact I inherited the gene that gave me extra digits at birth that ran on my mom's side. If this were in fact a "genetic" illness, then why does neither my mom or dad have it, and why do none of my siblings have it either? I personnaly believe this is the breakthrough that everyone with this illness is looking for.

Posted by: Kevin at October 29, 2006 11:58 AM

i think that schizophrenia report to childhood abuse they go hand to hand, The brain get the trauma and record the trauma, i never let go of the trauma. and sensitivity began to respond the entired body, records and manipulats the enviroment. yes there is a way to lived with it. not to think of the problem need to maintain fully occupied the brain in activities and use your skills. don't dig into the past every day. forget the past. use your sensivity to thinks positive so you can help others.
brain is like a electrical components, you can program for the new thinks that you want, you get to choose to do them right or wrong.
The trauma is heavy..
sensivity evolved ...
brain respond .....
program your brain ...
occupied your brain....
good things and usefull thinks. your are not dead you are alive and sensativity lead to ensiety.....

Posted by: edas villalta at October 30, 2006 07:14 PM

I was abused verbally and sexually during childhood but did not develop schizophrenia

Posted by: susan at November 6, 2006 07:04 AM

I feel compelled to write as correlation does not mean cause. years ago they accused mothers of being refrigerator mothers and the cause of Autism. Their have been mothers put in prison for "Cot Death" in England because a "Professor was supposed to know what he was talking about. I would like to say there is correlations betwwen flu in pregnancy and schizophrenia. Thereis correlation between toxaemia in pregnanccy with schizophrenia and autism there is also correlation with difficult births. There are going to be a correlation between mental health patients and abuse and sexual abuse because a large majority of the population have suffered it. Research done by Spartao (Impact of sexual abuse in
ental Health" Prospective Study 2004. found that although there was correlation between sexual abuse and mental health there was no correlation between sexual abuse and schizophrenia. So please do not let use go back to the 70's when mothers were blamed because it is terrible to have to come to terms with, but to think you may have caused it would be unbearable.

Posted by: susan at November 6, 2006 07:33 AM

Thank you, Susan, for your enlightened comments.

Posted by: Karen at November 9, 2006 03:56 AM

i would like my husband to go for therapy and medication for his mental disorder, but he refuses to go and became severely addicted to drugs and involved in satanism, and on top of it all we are going through a traumatic divorce with 3 children involved.He was advised in January 2006 already that he must go see a psychiatrist immediately ,but he refused to go , now he got involved in all the most evil things and do show signs of committing suicide.How can i convince him to go for help, because he is so dangerous he just want to kill, and hacks phones, stalks me , abuse me etc.and on top of it , he has 3 id's and is a spy for the police.please give me some advice

Posted by: crystal lekay at November 28, 2006 01:22 AM

I am in a relationship with a paranoid schizophrenic. He is wonderful and a genius, however he has issues and when in psychosis there are no boundaries. He was abused as a child severely by his father physically and mentally. However, his Mother also has the disease, and now his oldes son has it as well. He claims to have the illness under control, and suffers regularly from hallucinations, hearing voices, is suicidal, then the next day he is OK. I have tried to get him into counselling and he went but now refuses to go because he doesn't want to talk about the past.

Posted by: K at November 28, 2006 02:18 PM

My husband and myself have been married for almost 20 years and have raised two children the same. These children could not be more opposite. One is an over achiever, successful in school and social activities, and life in general. The other child is reserved, hates school and social activities; but loves computer games, home activities and family. We have raised them both the same. However, the child that is more unsocial has had to cope with mental issues for their whole life thus far. I find it reprehensible that we are regressing rather than progressing in the mental health field by insinuating that abuse could be the cause of mental illness. While I agree that environmental issues can CONTRIBUTE, I don't think that they are the CAUSE. This study states that there is a CORRELATION between children having been abused as children. This could mean ANYONE, such as teachers, shoolmates, coaches, etc. However, I still don't believe that these stresses CAUSE the illness, I only think it can bring on episodes or start the onset of the illness. Our society has a stigma against mental illness (disease) and constantly looks for things to blame mental illness on.

I do believe this is a valid study, but I think people are taking things out of context when discussing issues to the general public and parents are being focused upon as being the CAUSE of their children's mental illness'. Parents, such as myself, have enough guilt to cope with, let alone the stress of having a child with mental illness.

Let's not add to the guilt by spreading invalid information and taking things out of context. Also, we need to hold people in the media responsible to what they report on by staying involved. I know there are other parents out there like me that are probably feeling the same way as I do-please don't judge them-they may be very loving parents doing the best they can to cope with a very complicated illness!

Posted by: T at November 30, 2006 02:04 PM

I think there may be an interaction effect between some predisposition and stress from many potential sources.
There has been research on stress during infancy altering gene expression in animals, and there is also research showing decreased cerebellar function in survivors of childhood abuse.
Sorry I do not have the exact references.

Posted by: SpamBot at May 13, 2007 02:46 AM

My brother was abused horribly as a child and later in life developed paranoid schizophrenia. The first delusions he started having clearly related to things he suffered with as a child, I know, for I was there part of the time. He killed himself 6 months ago after his illness progressed. I know for a fact his schizophrenia was the end result to his being abused.

Posted by: Brenda O'Neal at December 1, 2007 10:22 PM

I think that the continuos confusion of personality leads to schizophrania.

Posted by: samar sermani at January 19, 2008 11:39 AM

I have just discovered this site and I'm encouraged to see such discussion. I have an adult child, diagnosed with schizotypal affective disorder (related to schizophrenia) who committed suicide last year. He has the happiest child, outgoing, joyful. His symptoms developed around 17 yrs. His great aunt was committed with schizophrenia. To blame parents, particularly mothers, is cruel and destructive. Yes abuse can cause mental illnes, i.e. neurosis, split personality etc. We will never find a cure for schizophrenia as long as we hide behind simplistic, naive labels such "as all mental illness is caused by abuse". It is definitely a FACTOR, sometimes a cause, but let's start doing the real work of studying the brain and genetics if we really want to find a cure.

Posted by: Margaret at April 7, 2008 11:40 AM

I am such a person who suffered from childhood psychosocial trauma and after 40 years of life the cure for what disorder I have been diagnosed with is simply for me to be around socialize and connect with people who are well adjusted and socially healthy I was fortunate enough to be in the town I was adopted into and realize if I hadn't been exposed to what I was I would have had consequences more severe than even what I've been through with my mental health history but no illicit drug or alcohol abuse given a few instances of trying marijuana but not criminal problems because of adopted parents of high quality and consistent caring effort for over 33 years

Posted by: Stephen P. D. Hartley at June 19, 2008 12:13 AM

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