Parental Communication Deviance as a Risk Factor for Psychosis


A review of the literature from 1959 to 2012 on communication deviance (CD) in parents of psychotic patients, by Richard Bentall and others, finds that CD is highly prevalent in parents of psychotic offspring. Results appear in the July issue of 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].



      I had to look it up too, which means it is obscure garbage from the 1970s that rarely comes up internet-wide.

      It’s just a label slapped on the difficult family relationships with parents common amongst troubled people.

      The word magic and neologisms developed by the class of ‘experts on states of mind they’ve never experienced themselves’ never ceases to amaze.

      Because simply noting that a lot of people forced into the mental patient role have troubled relationships with their parents, would sound, God forbid, unscientific. So they build walls of crap, sand castles of phrases like ‘communication deviance’ to augment the childish chemistry sets they like to play with.

      Our owners and definers are very immature.

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  1. I’d like to see the idea that there’s nothing parents can do to help their kids except give them their meds die already. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think that being raised by parents who can’t communicate clearly or nonviolently can literally drive you crazy (or at least contribute.) I’m with you on the walls of crap, Anonymous, calling this “communication deviance” seems to complicate a simple helpful concept into something unfixable.

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    • I couldn’t agree with you (both, Cataract and _Anonymous) more. And even more unfixable it becomes when the offspring is “genetically sensitive”. I’d like to see the genetic sensitivity before I’m asked to accept it as the proven fact the authors of the study seem to think it is.

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      • Wow, this is amazing. Why isn’t this in the DSM: Communication deviance, with a whole list of symptoms, of which a definite number have to be occurring for a clear label?
        Haven’t they caught on? A whole new opportunity to heal society with treatment! It’s not for no reasons so many psychiatrists are on ADHD medications (keeping themselves in a suspended state of mild shock to enhance their attention on the things outside of them), so they can concentrate on this label!
        Why aren’t there clinical trials to see whether Communication Deviance has something to do with seratonine reuptake, wild crazy untamed dopamine roaming around, the lack of neuroplasticity caused by brain damage and other such wonders of modern psychiatry!?

        Maybe try 3 out of these 5:
        1) Parent doesn’t remember color of child’s shirt worn at last holiday.
        2) Parent doesn’t use disciplinary measure to get child to do homework, and shows insufficient interest for penal methods.
        3) Person writing this is tired of making stuff up, and allows reader to interpret this anyway that allows for a third positive.
        4) Parent agrees or doesn’t agree with writer of list, since both actions show insufficient interest in child.
        5) Parent has never been arrested for breaking into locked psychiatric facility to to read this list, which also shows insufficient interest in communication.

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