Cognitive pathway between trauma and psychosis

Presentation First Author: 
Emmanuelle Peter

Cognitive models of psychosis suggest that (1) appraisals are key in determining the transition from benign anomalous experience to psychotic symptoms, and (2) trauma may be one of the predisposing factors to psychosis, which is increasingly supported by empirical evidence (Varese et al, 2012). However it remains unclear whether trauma predisposes to the development of anomalous experiences, or to the pathogenic appraisals which transform them into psychotic symptoms. In a pilot study the contribution of appraisals of anomalous experiences and trauma to the development of 'need-for-care was investigated in two groups reporting equal levels of psychotic-like experiences with and without a need-for-care (Lovatt et al, 2010). The clinical group was more distressed, endorsed more externalising and personalising appraisals, and fewer psychological/normalising appraisals of their experiences, than the non-clinical group. Contrary to expectations, both groups had equally high scores on the Trauma History Questionnaire (Green, 1996). However interpersonal trauma specifically was associated with more maladaptive, and fewer adaptive, appraisals. These results suggest that 'need-for-care is characterised by distress and personalising appraisals, but not by a higher incidence of trauma. The role of interpersonal trauma, specifically, may be to predispose to a 'paranoid world view, leading to maladaptive appraisals of anomalous experiences. Data from a larger sample (N=150, from the UNIQUE study (Unusual Experiences Enquiry Study)), which investigated further the potential cognitive pathway between victimisation and psychosis using a more thorough assessment of interpersonal trauma and victimisation experiences, and appraisals of experimentally-induced anomalous experiences, will be reported and discussed

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
January, 2015
Additional Authors: 
Monica Charalambides - Thomas Ward - Mike Jackson - Craig Morgan - Philippa Garety
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