Loss of a Parent in Childhood
Raises Psychosis Risk


Children who lose a parent before the age of 3 are 84% more likely to experience psychosis as adults, according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. In a dose-dependent relationship, the increased risk for children aged 3 to 7 drops to 47%, and 32% for children aged 7 to 13. Data was drawn from nearly 947,000 children born in Sweden between 1973 and 1985.

Article →

Abel, K., Heuvelman, H., Jörgensen, L., Magnusson, C.; Severe bereavement stress during the prenatal and childhood periods and risk of psychosis in later life: population based cohort study. British Medical Journal. Online January 21, 2014. vol. 348:f7679.

Of further interest:
Childhood bereavement contributes to future psychosis risk (Medwire)
Children Who Lose Close Relative at Risk of Mental Problems: Study (Healthday)

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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. Holy Hannah!
    Got a family member this applies to (was age 2). Well another two of us already knew this. Well now we got an actual !!STUDY!! corroborating what we really already knew. This link is getting bookmarked and SENT!

    We’ve known this in planning our strategy on how we can help here. The situ is complicated by other family politics. Isn’t it the pits when I have the experience to help but and the assistance of yet other family members but we don’t dare upset the current applecart. I can’t give away any more than that but it sucks to have to stand down and watch a life wasted.

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