Childhood Sexual Abuse May Be Important Cause Of Schizophrenia, UK

More research adding to the body of evidence showing the connection between difficult life experiences and “mental illness”.  

This one focusses on the connection between child abuse and what gets diagnosed as “schizophrenia”.

There is now a lot of evidence like this and not just from a few outsiders or dissidents – this was presented to the congress of the Royal College of Psychiatry in UK in Jun 2011. 

So when your healthcare professionals attempt to fob you off with marketing copy and tell you that you have a “chemical imbalance”  ask them…

“where is the evidence for that?

Chemical imbalance my ass.


Article Published in Medical News Today…July 2011

Childhood Sexual Abuse May Be Important Cause Of Schizophrenia, UK

Childhood sexual abuse is a strong predictor of  schizophrenia in later life, a leading Psychiatrist has told the International Congress of the Royal  College of Psychiatrists 2011.
It is a contributing cause of 17 per cent of cases of psychotic illness including schizophrenia, Professor Paul Bebbington, Head of the Department of Mental Health Sciences at UCL (University College London), told the Congress.
“The worse the abuse, the more it increases the risk of developing psychosis. Someone who has experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse before the age of 16 is 10 times more likely to develop the mental disorder,” Professor Bebbington said.

He continued: “This is especially significant because sexual abuse is common in childhood. Eight in every 100 people have experienced molestation while one per cent of men and three per cent of women report having had non-consensual sexual intercourse under the age of 16. It is possible to calculate that if childhood sexual abuse ceased, there might be as much as a 17 per cent reduction in people suffering from schizophrenia.”
Professor Bebbington is lead researcher on the new research which is published today (Friday, 1 July) in the July issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry. The research uses data from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. The researchers found that non-consensual sexual intercourse before the age of 16 was strongly associated with psychosis. They also found weaker associations with being sexually molested and inappropriate sexual talk.
Professor Bebbington told the Congress: “The increased risk of psychosis may be linked to the intrusive nature of childhood sexual abuse and having no control over what is happening to you. It has disastrous effects on self-esteem and psychological well-being, and is linked to paranoia and suspiciousness – even in people who don’t go on to develop psychosis.
“Victims commonly describe sexual abuse as being accompanied by demands for secrecy and threats if the secrecy is broken, blocking effective social engagement and leading to isolation that itself leads to the development of psychotic symptoms.”
Professor Bebbington said that victims of sexual abuse identified by social services or the criminal justice system should be offered support to help them deal with the psychological consequences of abuse before psychiatric disorders emerge.

Bebbington P, Jonas S, Kuipers E, King M, Cooper C, Brugha T, Meltzer H, McManus S and Jenkins R, Childhood sexual abuse and psychosis: data from a cross-sectional national psychiatric survey in England. British Journal of Psychiatry 2011; 199: 29-37

The International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2011, 28 June – 1 July, Brighton
Source:  Royal College of Psychiatrists

Read original article at Medical News Today


Abstract of original paper at BJP – British Journal of Psychiatry.

Childhood sexual abuse and psychosis: data from a cross-sectional national psychiatric survey in England



A number of studies in a range of samples attest a link between childhood sexual abuse and psychosis.


To use data from a large representative general population sample (Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007) to test hypotheses that childhood sexual abuse is linked to psychosis, and that the relationship is consistent with mediation by revictimisation experiences, heavy cannabis use, anxiety and depression.                 


The prevalence of psychosis was established operationally in a representative cross-sectional survey of the adult household population of England (n = 7353). Using computer-assisted self-interview, a history of various forms of sexual abuse was established, along with the  date of first abuse.                 


Sexual abuse before the age of 16 was strongly associated with psychosis, particularly if it involved non-consensual sexual intercourse (odds ratio (OR) = 10.14, 95% CI 4.8–21.3, population attributable risk fraction 14%). There was evidence of partial                mediation by anxiety and depression, but not by heavy cannabis use nor revictimisation in adulthood.                 


The association between childhood sexual abuse and psychosis was large, and may be causal. These results have important implications for the nature and aetiology of psychosis, for its treatment and for primary prevention.    

Original at BSPych

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