Childhood Adversity Increases Psychosis

Kermit Cole

Researchers in the U.K. and Netherlands found a nearly 3x greater chance of childhood adversity among patients with psychosis in 36 studies of various research designs from 1980 through 2011, representing a total of 81,253 study subjects. The authors (including John Read, Jim van Os and Richard Bentall) mention that the results reflect associations with specific types of exposure (abuse, neglect, parental death, and bullying) but that adversity is a heterogenous concept requiring further study. Results will appear in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]


  1. As the mother of two bipolar adult children, and a genetic carrier for the disease, I find the article valid. My family accepts the disease as a part of those inflicted, and the disease was never the “gauge” of the individual, but rather a part of the person that needed “attention and monitoring”. Many of my past family members were able to use learned skills instead of medication, but medication was also used.

    In the case of my two older children with the disease, I find their symptoms much stronger than any of the others of my family. I beleive this due to the fact that my exhusband was extremely volitile, abusive physically, psychologically and emotionally. My daughter has spent many years in and out of hospitals trying to “decompress” from her father’s influence, while my son has totally withdrawn from society.