Experiences of childhood trauma and victimization may be associated with adult psychosis. This association will be examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally in an adolescent sample from the general population. In an adolescent sample of 1290 14-year olds, the association between unwanted sexual experiences and being bullied on the one hand and psychotic experiences on the other, was examined. Both sexual trauma (OR: 4.8, 95% CI 2.3-10.1) and being bullied (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.8-4.8) were strongly and independently associated with psychotic experiences. After a follow-up of 2 years, sexual trauma (OR: 5.7, 95% CI 2.5-12.9) and being bullied (OR: 2.1, 95% CI 1.1-3.9) remained significantly associated with psychosis-like experiences.
These results suggest that reported associations between childhood victimization and adult psychosis can be understood in a developmental framework of onset of at-risk mental states in early adolescence. It will be argued that the mechanism by which trauma is likely to impact on psychosis risk is through cognitive and emotional pathways on the one hand, and biological pathways, possibly involving dopamine sensitisation, on the other.