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Schizophr Bull. 2017 Jan;43(1):187-196. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbw055. Epub 2016 May 10.

A Network Approach to Psychosis: Pathways Between Childhood Trauma and Psychotic Symptoms.

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Department of Psychology, Psychological Methods, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
Department of Psychology, Psychological Methods, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Psychiatry, Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Psychiatry, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Childhood trauma (CT) has been identified as a potential risk factor for the onset of psychotic disorders. However, to date, there is limited consensus with respect to which symptoms may ensue after exposure to trauma in early life, and whether specific pathways may account for these associations. The aim of the present study was to use the novel network approach to investigate how different types of traumatic childhood experiences relate to specific symptoms of psychotic disorders and to identify pathways that may be involved in the relationship between CT and psychosis. We used data of patients diagnosed with a psychotic disorder (n = 552) from the longitudinal observational study Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis Project and included the 5 scales of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form and all original symptom dimensions of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Our results show that all 5 types of CT and positive and negative symptoms of psychosis are connected through symptoms of general psychopathology. These findings are in line with the theory of an affective pathway to psychosis after exposure to CT, with anxiety as a main connective component, but they also point to several additional connective paths between trauma and psychosis: eg, through poor impulse control (connecting abuse to grandiosity, excitement, and hostility) and motor retardation (connecting neglect to most negative symptoms). The results of the current study suggest that multiple paths may exist between trauma and psychosis and may also be useful in mapping potential transdiagnostic processes.


affective pathway to psychosis; early trauma; network analysis; psychotic disorders; schizophrenia

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