Childhood Victimization Connected with Experiences of Psychosis

Childhood victimization associated with experiences of psychosis later in life


A new study in the journal Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology explores the associations between adult victimization, childhood victimization, and psychotic experiences.

The authors, including researchers from the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, King’s College, and the University Medical Center Utrecht, demonstrated that psychotic experiences and childhood victimization were associated with an increased risk of adult victimization. Further, they found that the presence of adult and/or childhood victimization increased the risk of later experiences of psychotic symptoms.

Photo Credit: “Childhood memories,” by Eric Prunier, Flickr

Childhood trauma has been associated with negative psychological consequences, including severity of hallucinations, receiving a bipolar diagnosis, and psychosis. Moreover, the researchers of this study cite previous research demonstrating that people with psychosis are more likely to be victims of violence than to be perpetrators.

They add that while research has found associations between victimization, most research has focused on informing the hypothesis that childhood victimization is a risk factor for the development of psychosis. But there has also been evidence showing that having psychotic experiences increases the likelihood of childhood victimization. Furthermore, psychosis is also associated with adult victimization, but no studies have examined if psychosis predicts adult victimization.

The present study aimed to shed light on these associations and hypothesized interactions. The authors hypothesized that psychotic experiences increase the risk of incident adult victimization and that adult victimization increases the risk of incident psychotic experiences and that childhood victimization increases the risk of both adult victimization and psychotic experiences. The bidirectional association between psychotic experiences and adult victimization would increase when childhood victimization was present.

Baseline, 3-year, and 6-year follow-up data of 6646 participants from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study was utilized. The main variables of interest were psychotic experiences, childhood victimization, and adult victimization. Psychotic experiences were measured with an instrument which queried for lifetime delusional and hallucinatory experiences. Incidence of childhood victimization was determined by asking participants if they had ever experienced emotional abuse, psychological abuse, or physical abuse before the age of 16.

Information on adult victimization was collected by asking participants if they had experienced lifetime violent and psychological victimization by an intimate partner, or lifetime sexual victimization by any person since the age of 16 by providing participants with a booklet which listed and numbered the types of victimization. Participants provided the interviewer with the numbers of the type of victimization that they had experienced. This was done to increase the likelihood that adult victimization would be reported.

At baseline:

  • Of the 6359 participants, 340 reported psychotic experiences
  • More women than men reported having psychotic experiences
  • Those who had psychotic experiences had a higher prevalence of childhood victimization, adult victimization, lifetime substance use disorders and arrest
  • All forms of baseline adult victimization were associated with psychotic experiences
  • Childhood victimization was associated with incident psychotic experiences

Isolated psychotic experiences (PE) and isolated childhood victimization were associated with increased risk of adult victimization, but the co-occurrence of psychotic experiences and childhood victimization did not increase the risk of adult victimization. Psychotic experiences increased the risk of adult victimization and childhood victimization increased the risk of adult victimization in those without psychotic experiences. Overall, this suggests that psychotic experiences and childhood victimization do not act synergistically to increase the risk of adult victimization.

“. .  any excess risk for adult victimization would already have been consumed after isolated exposure to either PE (psychotic experiences) or childhood victimization,” the researchers explain.

Also of interest, in those participants who had experienced childhood victimization, psychotic experiences were associated with incident sexual victimization, but researchers were not able to examine this interaction.

“The present results showed evidence for the hypothesized bidirectional association between adult victimisation and PE. However, the hypothesis of a positive interaction between childhood victimisation and both PE and adult victimisation was falsified”

Previous research suggests that individuals who experience victimization may see an increase in psychosis risk and that this risk may result from the development of a worrying thinking style, negative beliefs about the self, and reasoning biases (e.g. jumping to conclusions). Overall, childhood victimization increases the risk for psychotic experiences directly and through adult victimization. When there is no presence of childhood victimization, psychosis and adult victimization have a bidirectional relationship with each other.



Honings, S., Drukker, M., ten Have, M., de Graaf, R., Van Dorsselaer, S., & van Os, J. (2017). The interplay of psychosis and victimisation across the life course: a prospective study in the general population. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 1-12. (Link)

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Bernalyn Ruiz
MIA Research News Team: Bernalyn Ruiz-Yu is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Ruiz-Yu has diverse clinical expertise working with individuals, families, children, and groups with a special focus on youth at risk for psychosis. Her research focuses on adolescent serious mental illness, psychosis, stigma, and the use of sport and physical activity in our mental health treatments.


  1. Bernalyn, you’re telling us nothing we don’t know. It’s a crying shame that folks who survive childhood abuse get “helped” by being set up for more abuse as adults in the “Mental Illness” System.

    Being demonized by a profession you trusted, being doped up continually, having a defamatory label attached to you, segregation from the community, crushing poverty–due to disabling effects of drugs and the defamatory label/s….all these help child abuse victims immensely!

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    • An ethical pastor was kind enough to read my medical research, neatly organized next to my and my child’s chronologically organized medical records, and he confessed to me that my family had dealt with “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”

      Basically what this ‘dirty little secret’ is, is that decades ago, the psychological and psychiatric industries made a faustian deal with the mainstream religions and the mainstream medical community. This faustian deal consisted of a promise by the psychologic and psychiatric leaders to cover up the easily recognized iatrogenesis of the mainstream doctors and the “zipper troubles” of the religions and their wealthy, in exchange for the psychiatrists and psychologists getting undue credibility. And all of us here know there is no scientific validity to what the psychologists and psychiatrists do, it just amounts to torture.

      So given a knowledge that the leaders of the psychologic and psychiatric industries, long ago, promised to cover up rape of women and children for the religions and mainstream medical community. It shouldn’t be surprising that today, “the prevalence of childhood trauma exposure within borderline personality disorder patients has been evidenced to be as high as 92% (Yen et al., 2002). Within individuals diagnosed with psychotic or affective disorders, it reaches 82% (Larsson et al., 2012).”

      There are zero medical tests that can prove a person is “psychotic.” My psychologist and psychiatrists thought dreams, gut instincts, and even just thoughts were “psychosis.” You know, like thoughts and concerns of the potential abuse of my child, medical proof of which was finally handed over three and a half years later by some nurses, who finally realized how unethical my PCP was.

      Perhaps, the psychological and psychiatric industries should get out of the business of intentionally or unintentionally mislabeling child abuse victims and their concerned parents as “psychotic,” and then making the child abuse victims actually “psychotic” with the psychiatric drugs? Both the antidepressants and the antipsychotics are known to cause “psychosis” via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning.

      Oh, but the majority of today’s “mental health professionals” don’t know this, because anticholinergic toxidrome is missing from your DSM. How convenient for your faustian deal making leaders, huh? And, of course, it’s also convenient for the fiscally irresponsible, war mongering and profiteering, globalist, luciferian banksters who now rule our world.

      Is it time to put an end to “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” yet, psychiatrists and psychologists, especially now that the world is controlled by child killing banksters?

      Perhaps, if we had non-luciferians in charge of the world, the world would be a better place? Just a theory.

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  2. Yes…I had largely overcome the effects of childhood adversities and had constructed a successful career and life…a couple of lovely and high functioning kids, friends etc. Then at 50 I suffered work stress and was referred to a psychiatrist.

    WOW! His “help” led to hospitalisation and my first ever (and only) psychotic experience, with forced drugging in a locked ward and no hope of returning to my career and former life.

    Then, when I had finally developed a deep and trusting therapeutic relationship with him, I turned up for a session and he threw me out of his office for no apparent reason, while hurling diagnoses and verbal abuse.

    I have been off all the medication for over 10 years and have never had another psychotic episode, but talk about devastated and demonised – 10 years on and I still have incredibly severe issues with trust in all my relationships and am terrified of going to the doctor. Friendship are difficult for me and social life seems like a minefield.

    The destructiveness of psychiatry cannot be overstated. It is, by its very nature, victimisation. It labels and demonises people, places them in the role of “inferior and broken”, and then proceeds with a systematic attack on their rights and self hood.

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    • Mik

      I am very sorry for your experience. I can identify with you. I too have suffered irreversible damage at the hands of psychiatrists my whole life. I too had a successful career but am now a basket case. Don’t trust anyone or anything. God help us. People tell me you can’t change the past and just need to move forward. Or pray and God will help you. I don’t feel I can do that anymore and now even blame myself.

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      • Hi Helpstillneeded
        it is a very difficult situation to be in…needing help but being too terrified to seek it. I know it well.

        But it most certainly is not your fault, so please, don’t blame yourself, and it certainly is not cowardice. Being abused and victimised leaves deep scars, but I find my art, my writing, meditation, music, and nature …all, at different times, help me. If praying helps you, then pray, but remember music art and nature have wonderfully healing properties too.

        This site has benefited me enormously over the years as it has helped me understand how truly destructive psychiatry is from its false labels to its evil, soul-destroying “treatments”, be they drugs or “therapy” where the therapist can lock you up and/or drug you if you don’t accept your “diagnosis”, and where its practitioners are immune to legal responsibility because they, as judge, jury and executioner, are effectively untouchable.

        We are of similar ages and I must admit that looking to the future I don’t much that enthuses me. However, I am trying to focus on the things that give me comfort and hope that eventually my trauma reactions will settle down a bit…10 years off “meds” and two years functioning in the community (although I will never return to paid work) psychiatry-free I am not quite as scared as I was.

        The nightmares I used to have of being locked up and drugged have subsided somewhat and I think it has now been a while since I woke myself screaming in terror.

        I hope you find some peace.

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        • Dear MIK

          Thank you. I wish I could find anything that calms me but after being hospitalized 6 times via police and ambulance I can’t sleep anymore. I have been taken fro tm my condo because I wasn’t caring for it or myself after being returned there after being hospitalized. I had been a successful PhD researcher who at 50 lost his 13 year job through no fault of his own and an intimate relationship left me with no warning who because of a very complicated situation I had to see several times a week though I didn’t want to have anything to do with her. and after trying to hold it together for 5 yrs broke down in my Psychiatrists office because I was frustrated that meds were not working. I was not violent just very scared. Next thing he leaves the room and says it’s done and an ambulance and police take me to the hospital. In hospital I was taunted by staff and patients. One patient followed me around for 2 weeks telling me about judgement day and saying he would stick pencils in my ear. Another patient said he was the devil and referenced trying to help me in the past but now he was going to kill me and throw me in a dumpster. These were not hallucinations though I was heavily drugged. I’ve been placed in a “retirement” home single room and outside my window is a dumpster which is emptied many times a day night with loud noises that remind me of what the person in hospital told me. I am afraid to leave my room. I can’t think clearly anymore. I panic whenever I see an ambulance or hear a police siren which is often since older residents are being taken to the hospital daily. I feel like I am living in hell or feel I must be being punished. What scares me most is that I have been unable to sleep and am having violent thoughts when in the past I was a gentle introverted person.

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          • Oh dear…you are in a horrible situation.

            Your experience of being harassed by staff and patients in psych ward mirrors my own and while it would have been unpleasant in any place it was terrifying when combined with my own thoughts and the brutal setting.

            The violent thoughts terrified and repelled me too, but what helped me was to think of them as a reflection of what had been/was being done to me and sit with them. Some of my stuff about good and evil/heaven and hell went back to early childhood stuff that had been retriggered by all the totally overwhelming events.

            I am not sure whether it was the medication, but I became extremely noise sensitive…everything sensitive in fact…it was like an internal volume switch had been shifted to the highest possible setting. Ear plugs helped a little until I could get to a quieter environment…is there any possibility you could ask to be moved as soon as a quieter room becomes available?

            I certainly feel for your predicament and hope you can manage to use your very significant skills and intelligence (yes, they are still there) to negotiate some improvements.

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  3. Unfortunately severe emotional problems have fallen into the realm of physicians/psychiatrists, who naturally think in physical terms. This isn’t too surprising since we have spent the last 500 years escaping from spiritual domination and developing an amazing understanding of the physical .
    I had a 50 year career as a psychotherapist and discovered that “mental illnesses ” were usually spiritual, not in the religious sense but in the sense of relationships with the people in one’s life. The spirits of our mothers, fathers and those who have affected us.
    An investigation into this with patients who were willing invariably showed a connection between symptoms and early life traumas.
    My most dedicated and hard working people were those trapped in psychosis, which was like being trapped in a perpetual nightmare!
    It sometimes took years but we discovered that they could escape from hell and become marvellous, giving people.

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