Strong link found between emotional abuse in childhood and schizophrenia-like experiences in adulthood – Neuroscience News

Summary: A study finds a strong association between emotional abuse experienced in childhood and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia-like symptoms in adulthood.

Source: University of Hertfordshire

A new study from the University of Hertfordshire has, for the first time, identified a strong link between emotional abuse in childhood and schizophrenia-like experiences in healthy adults, such as paranoia, hearing voices and social withdrawal.

Researchers say those who experienced emotional abuse early in life are 3.5 times more likely to have schizophrenia-like experiences in adulthood. The researchers also say that the greater the abuse, the more severe the schizophrenia-like experiences in adults.

The research, published in PLOS ONEis the first to summarize and quantify studies (25 in total) that have explored the relationship between childhood trauma and schizophrenia-like experiences in over 15,000 healthy people.

Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire analyzed the results of previous research to see if specific types of abuse, such as emotional, sexual and physical abuse, as well as emotional and physical neglect, increased the likelihood of having schizophrenia-like experiences later in life.

They found a much stronger link between childhood emotional abuse and adult schizophrenia-like experiences than other types of childhood abuse.

The relationship between childhood trauma and schizophrenia, a serious mental health problem, is well known. However, much less research has examined the impact of childhood trauma on the prevalence of less severe schizophrenia-like experiences in healthy adults.

The researchers believe their findings may show that schizophrenia is a condition on a spectrum, like autism, where healthy people can have schizophrenia-like episodes without reaching the diagnostic threshold.

University of Hertfordshire researcher Dr Diamantis Toutountzidis led the study under the supervision of Keith Laws, professor of neuropsychology at the university.

Dr. Toutountzidis says that “emotional abuse differs from other types of abuse. It is more common, often occurs over longer periods of time, and is not treated by law in the same way as physical or sexual abuse.

They found a much stronger link between childhood emotional abuse and adult schizophrenia-like experiences than other types of childhood abuse. Image is in public domain

“Our research has shown a significant link between childhood emotional abuse and schizophrenia-like experiences in healthy adults, and that emotional abuse is a stronger predictor of schizophrenia-like experiences than other types of abuse. .

“This is something that mental health professionals should consider when looking to address the root causes of schizophrenia-like experiences in people who suffer from it.”

Professor Laws added that “their research has opened the door to future studies that help to better understand how specific types of child abuse are linked to specific schizophrenia-like experiences much later in life. It will also help us begin to understand why such trauma is linked to conditions like schizophrenia in some, while others have more mild and manageable experiences.

About This Abuse and Psychology Research News

Author: Press office
Source: University of Hertfordshire
Contact: Press Office – University of Hertfordshire
Image: Image is in public domain

Original research: Free access.
“Childhood trauma and schizotypy in nonclinical samples: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by Diamantis Toutountzidis et al. PLOS ONE

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Summary

Childhood trauma and schizotypy in nonclinical samples: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The association of early life adversities and symptoms of psychosis is well documented in clinical populations; however, it is unclear whether this relationship also extends to subclinical psychosis. In particular, are early life adversities associated with increased levels of schizotypal personality traits in nonclinical samples?

We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of associations between early childhood adversities and psychometrically defined schizotypal traits in nonclinical samples. The examination followed the PRISMA guidelines.

The search using the PubMed, Web of Science and EBSCO databases identified a total of 1,609 articles. Twenty-five studies (N = 15,253 participants) met the eligibility criteria for the review. An assessment of study quality showed that less than half of all studies were considered methodologically sound.

Meta-analyses showed that all forms of childhood abuse (emotional, physical, and sexual) and neglect (emotional and physical) were significantly associated with psychometric schizotypy. The association of schizotypal traits with childhood emotional abuse (r = 0.33: 95% CI 0.30 to 0.37) was significantly greater than for all other forms of abuse or neglect. Meta-regression analyzes showed that the physical violence-schizotypy relationship was stronger in samples with more female participants; and the sexual abuse-schizotypy relationship was stronger in younger samples.

This review identifies a dose-response relationship between all forms of abuse/neglect and schizotypy scores in nonclinical samples; however, a stronger association emerged for psychological abuse. Further research is needed to address the relationship between types of trauma and specific types of symptoms.

Future research should also address the under-representation of men.

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