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Differential effects of childhood abuse and neglect: mediation by posttraumatic distress in neurotic disorder and negative symptoms in schizophrenia? Psychiatry Res 30: 121-127

Author(s): Vogel M, Meier J, Grönke S, Waage M, Schneider W, Freyberger HJ, Klauer T

Abstract

Dissociation, though understood as a response to trauma, lacks a proven etiology. The assumption of a dose–response relationship between trauma, dissociation and Schneiderian symptoms led to the proposal of a dissociative subtype of schizophrenia characterized by severe child maltreatment, dissociation and psychosis. Child maltreatment and dissociation are common features of neurotic disorders as well, and the link between trauma, dissociation, and hallucinations is not specific for schizophrenia. This study compares childhood abuse and neglect, posttraumatic distress and adult dissociation in patients with psychotic vs. non-psychotic disorder. Thirty-five participants with non-psychotic disorder and twenty-five with schizophrenia were analyzed using the Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms (SAPS), the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS), the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale PDS (PDS), the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTO) and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Methodik und Dokumentation in der Psychiatrie (AMDP)-module on dissociation. Trauma and clinical syndromes were compared by means of T-testing and logistic regression between 1) the diagnoses and 2) groups with and without post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), marked dissociation and psychotic symptoms. While non-psychotic disorder was related to abuse, schizophrenia showed an association with neglect. Childhood trauma predicted posttraumatic symptomatology and negative symptoms. Childhood abuse and neglect may effectuate different outcomes in neurotic and psychotic disorder. The underlying mechanisms, including dissociation, dovetail with cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes involved in depression, posttraumatic distress and chronic schizophrenia symptoms rather than being directly linked to trauma.

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