Toward a unified theory of childhood trauma and psychosis: A comprehensive review of epidemiological, clinical, neuropsychological and biological findings

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Abstract

There is a growing body of research focused on the relationship between childhood trauma and the risk of developing psychosis. Numerous studies, including many large-scale population-based studies, controlling for possible mediating variables, provide persuasive evidence of a dose-response association and are indicative of a causal relationship. Existing evidence supports the specificity model, showing differential associations between particular adversities and clinical symptoms, with cumulative adversity causing less favorable clinical and functional outcomes in psychotic patients. To date, several psychological and biological models have been proposed to search for underlying developmental trajectories leading to the onset of psychosis, influencing psychopathological manifestation and negative functional outcomes due to a history of childhood trauma. In this article, we provide a unified review on the relationship between childhood trauma and psychosis by integrating results of epidemiological, clinical, neuropsychological and biological studies. The question whether psychosis with a positive history of childhood trauma should be considered as a new psychotic phenotype, requiring specific therapeutic interventions, warrants further investigation.

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