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The idea that childhood abuse is a causal factor in the development of schizophrenia is a relatively old one and was an assumption given theoretical weight through Freudian Psychoanalysis. Recently a number of studies have been able to demonstrate this link. For example Janssen et al (2004) controlling for both family mental healthcare and history of hallucinations or delusions in first-degree relatives found that people who have been abused as children are nine times more likely than nonabused people to experience clinical psychosis.

Read et al (2008) identified fifty-two inpatient studies and seven outpatient studies which demonstrated between a half and two-thirds of inpatients and severely disturbed outpatients were sexually or physically abused.


  • Janssen I, Krabbendam L, Bak M, Hanssen M, Vollebergh W, de Graaf R, et al. Childhood abuse as a risk factor for psychotic experiences. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2004;109(1):38-45.
  • Read J, Fink PJ., Rudegeair, T, Felitti V, Whitfield, C.L. (2008) Child Maltreatment and Psychosis:A Return to a Genuinely IntegratedBio-Psycho-Social Model. Clinical Schizophrenia & Related Psychoses,