[quote]Professor Richard Bentall, from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: "The causes of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia, are a source of controversy amongst psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors. There is also disagreement about how the disorders are defined. It’s not unusual, for example, for a patient to be diagnosed with schizophrenia by one psychiatrist, but as bipolar by another.
"Our findings suggest that studies on the neurological and genetic factors associated with these conditions, which are not yet fully understood, are more like to advance our knowledge if we take into account a patient’s life experiences. We need to know, for example, how childhood trauma affects the developing brain, as well as whether there are genetic factors that increase vulnerability or resilience to traumatic events.
“These questions will need new research strategies, such as studies comparing traumatised children who grow up to be psychologically healthy and those who go on to develop mental illness. Looking at the brain or genes only is unlikely to tell us what we need to know in order to treat a patient effectively.”
“Now that we know environment is a major factor in psychosis and that there are direct links between specific experiences and symptoms of the condition, it is even more vital that psychiatric services routinely question patients about their life experience. Surprisingly, some psychiatric teams do not address these issues and only focus on treating a patient with medication.”