The Phenomenology of Traumatic Reactions to Psychotic Illness


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Abstract

This study investigated whether a psychotic illness was associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology in 45 subjects recovering from hospitalization for a psychotic episode. Previous studies have suggested that the experience of psychosis and hospitalization is distressing and that PTSD may be a useful paradigm for the psychological response. Subjects were given questionnaires to evaluate PTSD symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and distress and intrusive memories associated with aspects of treatment and psychosis. Treatment, especially experiences involving a loss of control such as detention, and psychotic symptoms, particularly persecutory delusions, passivity phenomena, and visual hallucinations, were perceived as highly distressing. Twenty-two subjects (52%) met the criteria for a postpsychotic PTSD, with implications for recognition and management of secondary morbidity related to psychosis.

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