Category Archives: Psychosis Articles

Those Raised In Care Homes More Likely To Develop Paranoia

In the past, research on how schizophrenia develops in individuals focused heavily on genetic factors. However, more recent research is now making it increasingly clear that the environment in which we grew up is strongly related to our chances of developing a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, in adulthood. Indeed, a meta-analysis of the relevant research, conducted at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, suggests that those individuals who were brought up in the care system are at significantly increased risk of developing paranoia (often a major symptom of schizophrenia) as adults.

Schizophrenia (including, of course, paranoid schizophrenia) is a form of psychosis (psychosis involves the affected person losing touch with reality / entering delusional states). The research conducted by the University of Liverpool also revealed that those who suffered severe childhood trauma were at significantly increased risk of developing not just paranoia, but a range of psychotic conditions. One figure derived from this research is quite staggering : in cases of severe childhood trauma, the individual affected may be 5,000% (i.e. 50 times) more likely to develop psychosis than the average person.

In connection with those who had suffered any form of trauma during childhood, such individuals were found to be at a 300% (3 times higher) increased risk of developing psychosis later on in life when compared to the average.

The bottom-line is, we may conclude from this research, is that the environment (i.e. the degree to which it is experienced as traumatic) in which one grows up is strongly associated with one’s risk of developing a psychotic disorder in later life.

And, just as it has already been found that being brought up in a care home increases one’s risk of developing paranoia later in life, it is thought other specific forms of psychosis may be linked to other specific forms of childhood trauma – however, research into this area is still at an early stage.

Finally, it should also be stated that genetic factors may also play a role; for example, some individuals may be ‘genetically’ more resilient to the adverse effects of trauma than others. Further research into this area, too,  needs to be conducted so that the role of genes in the development of psychosis may be more fully understood.

In the past, people with psychotic conditions have largely been treated according to the medical model (sometimes called the biological model) of mental illness; in other words, with medication. However, the above findings suggest that non-medicinal interventions may also be vitally required, such as ‘talk therapies’- therapies of this type may help the individual to process, and come to terms with, his/her traumatic past. One such therapy is trauma-focused cognitive therapy.

 

RESOURCES :

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Schizophrenia: Study Reveals Those Traumatized In Childhood Up To Fifty Times More Likely To Develop It

effects_of_childhood_trauma_ptsf

I remember when I was doing my first degree in psychology at the University of London that, when we studied schizophrenia, in trying to explain its causes we concentrated largely upon examining genetic explanations and, also, explanations based upon the existence of individual differences in brain chemistry and brain biology.

More recently, however, evidence has been accumulating that if an individual suffers childhood trauma then this, too, puts him/ her at greater risk of developing this most debilitating of psychiatric conditions.

Indeed, a study at the University of Liverpool and Maastricht in the Netherlands lends support to this theory. The study looked at data from three groups of people

a) individuals who were known to have suffered childhood trauma who wrre followed up in their adult lives (the study was what is known as longitudinal and examined 30 years’ worth of data)

b) psychotic individuals who were asked about their childhoods

c) randomly selected individuals (data obtained from this third group served as a comparison point against which to intetpret the data generated from the above two groups). This is also known as the control group.

THE FINDINGS OBTAINED FROM THE STUDY:

– those who had suffered childhood trauma prior to the age of 16 were 3 times more likely to develop psychosis in adulthood than were the individuals from the group of randomly selected individuals (group ‘c’ above)

– the more serious the individuals’ experiences of childhood trauma were, the more likely they were to develop psychosis later on during their lives

– those who had suffered the most serious types of trauma were found to be up to 50 times more likely to go on to develop schizophrenia than individuals who had been randomly selected for the sstudy

– different kinds of trauma resulted in the development of different types of psychiatric symptoms.  For example, those individuals who had spent significant amounts of time in children’s homes were particularly likely to develop symptoms of paranoia later on during their lives

IMPLICATIONS:

In the light of these findings, they expert Professor Bengal stressed the importance that those who were responsible for diagnosing psychiatric patients should ask them about their childhood experiences as a matter of routine.

Effects_of child_trauma_on_brain_and_psychosis_and_scizophrenia

Above: Differences in the brains of schizophrenics.

Professor Bengal also drew attention to the need for further research into the effects of childhood experiences on the physical developing brain ( click here to view details of my book on this) and also into genetic factors that may help to explain why some individuals are more resilient to the adverse effects of childhood trauma than others.

Finally, he called for further research into why symptoms of trauma often do not appear in an individual until years after the traumatic experiences have taken place. For example, a person who suffered childhood trauma between the ages of , say, eight and twelve, may not display overt psychiatric symptoms caused by it until his/her twenties.

child_trauma_and_NEUROPLASTICITY, functional_and_structural_ neuroplasticity

Above eBook now available for immediate download from Amazon. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma : BPD and Brief Psychotic Episodes

BPD_brief_psychotic_episodes

I have already published many articles about the link between the experience of significant childhood trauma and the later development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) – click here to read one such article.

If we are unfortunate enough to develop BPD following a traumatic childhood, in some cases (NOT all) we may, especially during periods of acute stress, be prone to what psychologists and psychiatrists refer to as brief psychotic episodes.

Such brief psychotic episodes can entail experiencing, for periods of short duration, symptoms such as paranoid delusions and hallucinations. However, these are likely to be of relatively minor intensity compared to how they might be experienced by someone suffering from acute schizophrenia.

BPD_and_brief_psychotic_episodes

The above diagram shows that psychosis can involve not only hallucinations and delusions, but, also : poor self care, disjointed thoughts, agitation, pacing, and unusual mood changes.

Let’s look at the symptoms of paranoid delusions and hallucinations in a little more detail:

Paranoid delusions – these may involve suspecting one’s friends or associates are plotting against one when this is not the case and there is no evidence that it’s the case. It might also involve ‘reading threats into’ what others say to one when no such threats exist.

Paranoid delusions of a severe nature may involve imagining threats which clearly have no grounding in reality at all, such as believing there is a world plot, coordinated at the highest levels of power, being constructed against one. However, as I alluded to earlier, such extreme delusions are NOT usually experienced by those suffering from BPD.

 

Hallucinations – these involve the imagined perception of stimuli which, in reality, do not actually exist. These may include:

1) Imagining one can hear ‘voices’ – these are referred to as ‘auditory hallucinations’

2) Imagining one can see things which are not actually there – these are referred to as ‘visual hallucinations’

3) Imagining one can feel by touch something which is not there (eg one may imagine one can feel a hand on one’s shoulder) – these are referred to as ‘tactile hallucinations’

4) Imagining a taste in one’s mouth – imagining one can taste something when there is no corresponding stimulus is known as a ‘gustatory hallucination’

5) Imagining a smell – smelling something which is not there is known as an ‘olfactory hallucination’

6) Imagining a significant change in temperature

Whilst all of these hallucinations are figments of the mind the important point is that they can feel very real to the person who is suffering from them.

If the person who has the experience of hallucinations such as these is aware that the sounds, visions etc are not real but are being generated from his/her own mind then experts to not consider them to be suffering from full-blown psychosis. These kind of experiences are only classified as psychotic if the person is adamant that they are real. As stated already, psychosis of this nature, involving a complete departure from reality, is rare in those with BPD.

Treatment.

If a person with BPD is suffering from hallucinations which cause distress, a psychiatrist may prescribe a period of time on antipsychotic medication, until the symptoms are under control. Such medication should never be self-prescribed and only taken on the advice of a properly qualified expert.

BPD_and_brief_psychotic_symptoms

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here.

Other titles available.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Borderline Personality Disorder – Possible Psychotic Symptoms

childhood_trauma_effects

Occasionally, some individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) may develop transient (short-lasting) psychotic symptoms ; these are also sometimes referred to as : psychotic episodes, psychotic experiences or ‘breaks from reality.’

What is Psychosis?

images (3)

Psychosis can involve :

– seeing things which are not there (visual hallucinations)

– hearing things which are not there eg the sufferer might believe they can hear voices telling them to harm, or even kill, themselves

– having the feeling of touching things which are not there (somatic hallucinations)

– smelling things which are not there (olfactory hallucinations)

– derealization (a change of perception in which the world seems ‘unreal’)

– depersonaliztion (a change of perception in which one’s own self seems unreal).

Note : Both derealization and depersonalization are what are known as ‘dissociative’ symptoms – click here to read my article about dissociation.

– holding on to extremely odd and unusual beliefs that others cannot dissuade the sufferer from believing, especially paranoid beliefs, such as their family, or strangers, are trying to kill them ; believing they are irredeemably evil ; believing they don’t exist ; believing the government is going to kill them and they are being pursued by MI5 (UK) or the CIA (US) ; believing aliens have placed an implant in their brains which broadcasts all their thoughts. Sometimes, too, the bizarre belief may be a delusion of grandeur, such as ‘they are god’.

images (2)

Whilst such experiences can sometimes be severe, most frequently they are not long-lived. However, such symptoms are also a sign that the illness (BPD) is worsening, and, therefore, a person who has psychotic symptoms should always seek expert help as quickly as possible.

If a BPD sufferer is unlucky enough to experience a psychotic episode, when is it most likely to occur, and how can that person minimize their risk?

Sufferers of BPD are at greatest risk of experiencing a psychotic episode following a significant stressor. Such experiences are sometimes referred to as ‘reactive psychosis.’ It follows from this, of course, that those with BPD should avoid stress as far as it is possible.

Psychotic Depression

guilt and childhood trauma

guilt and childhood trauma

The depression which accompanies BPD can become so acute that it leads to psychotic symptoms. Extended dysphoria (the word ‘dysphoria’ refers to a highly distressing state in which the sufferer feels extreme emotional pain, restlessness, emptiness and agitation) can tip over into psychotic experiences ;These may include : feelings of extreme, irrational guilt and false beliefs about being responsible for things that they are, in fact, in no way responsible for (such as the abuse they suffered).

coverbpd

Above e-book now available on Amazon for immediate download. $4.99.CLICK HERE

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma and Its Link to Psychosis – Infographic

childhood trauma and psychosis

The relationship between childhood trauma and the later development of psychosis.

The graph shows that different types of childhood trauma (represented along the x-axis) are predictive of psychosis (relative risks shown on y-axis) to variable degrees – it shows, for instance, that bullying and maltreatment put the individual at particular risk of going on to develop psychosis in later life. If you would like to read my post entitled : ‘The Link between Childhood Trauma and Psychosis’, please click here.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma : Its Link to Later Psychosis.

‘The psychiatric profession is about to experience an earthquake that will shake its intellectual foundations…there is tectonic, plate-shifting evidence'[for the environmental basis of psychosis]’

-Oliver James (leading UK psychologist). Comment in relation to the now overwhelming evidence that psychosis is strongly related to childhood trauma and the need to stop over-focusing on biological causes.

There is now extremely strong research evidence showing the link between childhood trauma and the affected individual’s likelihood of developing PSYCHOTIC ILLNESS in later life.

It is, of course, already well-established that there is a powerful link between childhood trauma and psychiatric conditions which include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, sexual dysfunction, personality disorder, dissociation and suicidal ideation. Now, however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is also a strong link with psychotic conditions such as BIPOLAR DEPRESSION and SCHIZOPHRENIA.

A plethora of evidence is now demonstrating the very high prevalence of experiences of severe childhood trauma in psychiatric patients who are suffering from psychotic illnesses

Indeed, many leading psychologists are arguing that researchers have neglected the importance of childhood experiences in relation to psychotic illness in the past. Here, then, I present some recent research which helps to redress the balance:

– Read et al reviewed 51 previous studies on causes of psychotic illness and found that 69% of female psychotic patients and 59% of male psychotic patients had suffered severe childhood trauma. It was also pointed out by the researchers that these figures, although already extremely high, may be UNDERESTIMATES due to the fact that experiences of child abuse are well known to be under-reported.

– Bebbington et al : these researchers, examining data generated from 8500 individuals, found that those suffering from psychosis were approx. 15 times more likely than the mentally well to have suffered severe childhood trauma.

– A Dutch study of 4000 patients found that those who had suffered severe childhood trauma were approx. 11 times more likely to have developed psychotic conditions in later life.

– A Californian study found that those who had suffered severe childhood trauma were 5 times more likely to have gone on to experience HALLUCINATIONS in later life.

HOW IS CHILDHOOD TRAUMA THOUGHT TO LEAD TO PSYCHOTIC CONDITIONS?

– COGNITIVE THEORY: Due to adverse childhood experiences, the individual develops what is called a NEGATIVE COGNITIVE TRIAD of beliefs; these are:

– a negative view of self
– a negative view of others
– a negative view of the world in general

More specifically, beliefs such as the following are likely to develop:
– I am vulnerable
– others cannot be trusted
– the world is dangerous

Such beliefs can become so ingrained and severe that they eventually manifest themselves in the guise of psychotic symptoms eg PARANOIA.

– AFFECT OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA ON THE BRAIN: Research is showing that extreme stress in childhood can adversely affect the physical development of vital brain regions responsible for emotional control (eg the AMYGDALA) which can lead to extreme emotional dysregulation (INABILITY TO CONTROL STRONG EMOTIONS) and concomitant over-sensitivity and emotional over-reactivity. If the problem becomes sufficiently intense psychotic conditions may result.

IMPLICATIONS:

It is thought a new, over-arching theory of the causes of psychosis (known in scientific circles as a PARADIGM SHIFT) is likely take root in the field of psychiatric research – namely one that emphasizes the enormous importance of adverse childhood experiences.

It is argued that patients who present with psychotic symptoms should ROUTINELY undergo DETAILED ASSESSMENTS relating to their childhood experiences and that there should be a much greater emphasis upon the importance of psychological therapy (as opposed to drug therapy- so popular up until now- based upon theories of the biological origins of psychotic conditions).

If you would like to view an infographic showing the relationship between different types of childhood trauma and the relative risks of later going on to develop psychosis, please click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery