Sudden Death of a Relative in Early Childhood Increases Risk of Psychotic Disorder


A team from Ireland, Finland and Sweden found, in a study of all those born in Helsinki in a 30-year period (1960 to 1990) who had lost a father or sibling between their conception and 5 years of age, that the sudden loss of a father or sibling led to a significantly greater risk of developing bipolar disorder or schizophrenia in adulthood, compared to those who lost a father or sibling to a protracted illness. The team concludes that stress during early development can increase the risk of psychotic illness.

Abstract →

Clarke, M., Tanskanen, A., Huttunen, M., Cannon, M.; Sudden Death of Father or Sibling in Early Childhood Increases Risk for Psychotic Disorder. Schizophrenia Research. Online December 23, 2012

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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].