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There has been increasing interest in the association between childhood
trauma and psychosis. Proposals for potential mechanisms involved include
affective dysregulation and cognitive appraisals of threat.
To establish if, within bipolar disorder, childhood events show a
significant association with psychosis, and in particular with symptoms
driven by dysregulation of mood or with a persecutory content.
Data on lifetime-ever presence of psychotic symptoms were determined by
detailed structured interview with case-note review (n =
2019). Childhood events were recorded using a self-report questionnaire
and case-note information.
There was no relationship between childhood events, or childhood abuse,
and psychosis per se. Childhood events were not
associated with an increased risk of persecutory or other delusions.
Significant associations were found between childhood abuse and auditory
hallucinations, strongest between sexual abuse and mood congruent or
abusive voices. These relationships remain significant even after
controlling for lifetime-ever cannabis misuse.
Within affective disorder, the relationship between childhood events and
psychosis appears to be relatively symptom-specific. It is possible that
the pathways leading to psychotic symptoms differ, with delusions and
non-hallucinatory symptoms being influenced less by childhood or early