Childhood abuse and neglect may induce deficits in cognitive precursors of psychosis in high-risk children


Millions of children are born to parents affected by major psychoses. Cognitive dysfunctions seen in patients are already detectable in these children. In parallel, childhood maltreatment increases the risk of adult psychoses through unknown mechanisms.


Our study included 66 high-risk offspring. Those who were exposed to abuse/neglect had significantly lower IQ than nonexposed offspring and displayed poorer cognitive performance in visual episodic memory and in executive functions of initiation.


In high-risk youths, maltreatment in childhood/adolescence may negatively impact cognitive domains known to be impaired in adults with psychoses, suggesting an early mediating effect in the association between abuse/neglect and adult psychoses. This finding provides a target for future developmental and preventive research.



It’s my belief that experiences that a child has can reroute hormone pathways in the brain permanently.

A good example is sexual abuse.

I think that a human that hasn’t fully developed morally that has been forced to develop sexually as a result of abuse will go through life never fully appreciating morality as it pertains to sex.

Maybe thats why those that have been abused are more likely to be abusers themselves.

When I 1) read the books and articles listed below, 2) observed the family members of sz and other severely afflicted psychiatric pts, and 3) continued to observe sz and other severely afflicted psychiatric pts, it was pretty easy to see how they were reacting to and imitating their abusers. This was not always the case, but it was the case far more often than not.

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I only went halfway through my alphabetical listings here. And there’s plenty more I haven’t (yet) read.

That is quite the list. Thanks for sharing.

I would be interested if the poor performance in episodic memory is simply due to the lack thereof or due to a distrust in episodic memory, known as memory distrust syndrome.

One way to understand the relation between childhood neglect and abuse and later psychosis is through the concept of trust/security. A betrayal of interpersonal trust, here in the form of neglect and abuse, may very well be the precondition of what Laing calls ontological insecurity, i.e. psychosis.

It seems reasonable that our reliance on episodic memory can be thought of as a precondition of everyday experience, which often takes the form of recognition or recollection. It seems to me that such a reliance can in principle only be validated in an environment of interpersonal reciprocal trust. Hence if you take away the latter, the former will be compromised as well.

I think more likely its just due to the impact of stress hormones on the brain.

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Pretty much what Sonya Lupien, Bruce McEwen, Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine assert. They’re four of the biggest names in PTSD research now.

If interested, one can look into implicit vs. explicit memory formation and retrieval and how they are powerfully effected by autonomic nervous system states, and hence, stress hormone levels. Cortisol, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and adrenaline levels get out of whack causing (or at least correlating with) memory to “fragment” unto bits and pieces of visual, auditory and tactile “semi-memories” that are too implicit to be easily retrieved. Then the PTSD sufferer (who may have sz as well) cannot make sense of what happened… and if he or she has sz, may “use” it to “explain” the stressful events in a “strange” way.

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