Childhood Stressors and Symptoms of SchizophreniaAuthor(s): Bernard J. Gallagher III, Brian J. Jones
There are many psychiatric disorders for which severe adverse events in childhood have been shown to be significant risk factors. This is particularly true for schizophrenia. The authors designed this study to determine whether specific childhood stressors might contribute to the specific symptoms of schizophrenia and not merely to increased risk for the psychosis. The authors divided childhood stressors into two domains: 1) “Childhood Neglect” in which the stressor is passively experienced as in the case of absent parenting and 2) “Childhood Abuse” in which the trauma is actively inflicted as in the case of physical maltreatment. Data for the study consist of the cumulative anonymous records of 134 schizophrenia patients carefully separated by positive or negative symptomatology. MANOVA testing yielded a statistically significant finding; childhood neglect is correlated with negative symptoms of schizophrenia and childhood abuse is associated with positive symptoms of the psychosis. The authors speculate that type of childhood stressor may incubate the specific symptoms of adult schizophrenia. They also call for more research on this topic since this is the first study of its kind.