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Monday, April 23, 2012

Childhood Trauma=Schizophrenia

Good morning, 
Last week there was a study that was published that children who experience trauma are 3x more likely to develop schizophrenia. Researchers at Liverpool and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, are the first bring together and analyze the findings from more than 30 years of studies looking at the association between childhood trauma and the development of psychosis, as reported by in the article Childhood trauma linked to schizophrenia. The article explains how the study was conducted and the results that were calculated. Professor Richard Bentall, from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said in the article: "Our findings suggest that studies on the neurological and genetic factors associated with these[schizophrenia, bipolar, psychotic disorders] conditions, which are not yet fully understood, are more like to advance our knowledge if we take into account a patient's life experiences. We need to know, for example, how childhood trauma affects the developing brain, as well as whether there are genetic factors that increase vulnerability or resilience to traumatic events..These questions will need new research strategies, such as studies comparing traumatized children who grow up to be psychologically healthy and those who go on to develop mental illness. Looking at the brain or genes only is unlikely to tell us what we need to know in order to treat a patient effectively." 

Despite the recent research that has been published, I am still on the fence about this research. With regards to this study, while it may give us a lot of information to help treat these children, we aren't going to now treat 7 y/o or an 8 y/o who has been through excessive trauma with the same medication as 35 y/o chronic schizophrenic. That isn't what the research is saying, but why would knowing this help combat the possible organic deficiency in a person? We cannot control the trauma at that point, and we would not be able to control the fact that this person has excessive levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Unless, we treat these types of children with the same medication to prevent them developing schizophrenia. Furthermore, schizophrenia is Dx in about 1% of the population, if this is study is a good indicator that number will increase. 

I just don't know...Thoughts ClinicallySpeaking nation?

Happy Monday!


  1. Though I havent read the article, some immediate questions do come to mind. For one, it seems to be indicating a direct and causal relationship between childhood trauma and adult schizophrenia. It is important to question this assumption. Perhaps these children had early social deficits common to individuals with schizophrenia that may, unfortunately, not allow them to recognize individuals and situations that may be harmful. They may be more vulnerable to traumatic situations. Additionally, there are some sick people out there who take advantage of individuals with schizophrenia and other illnesses. I am kind of rambling here ignorantly, but the point is that we need to be careful how we interpret the results and not assume that things are causal when in fact they may not be. Secondly, there is a heavy genetic component to many of these illnesses.

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