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Evidence suggests a causal role for trauma in psychosis, particularly for childhood victimization. However, the establishment of underlying trauma-related mechanisms would strengthen the causal argument. In a sample of people with relapsing psychosis (n = 228), we tested hypothesized mechanisms specifically related to impaired affect regulation, intrusive trauma memory, beliefs, and depression. The majority of participants (74.1%) reported victimization trauma, and a fifth (21.5%) met symptomatic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. We found a specific link between childhood sexual abuse and auditory hallucinations (adjusted OR = 2.21, SE = 0.74, P = .018). This relationship was mediated by posttraumatic avoidance and numbing (OR = 1.48, SE = 0.19, P = .038) and hyperarousal (OR = 1.44, SE = 0.18, P = .045), but not intrusive trauma memory, negative beliefs or depression. In contrast, childhood emotional abuse was specifically associated with delusions, both persecutory (adjusted OR = 2.21, SE = 0.68, P = .009) and referential (adjusted OR = 2.43, SE = 0.74, P = .004). The link with persecutory delusions was mediated by negative-other beliefs (OR = 1.36, SE = 0.14, P = .024), but not posttraumatic stress symptoms, negative-self beliefs, or depression. There was no evidence of mediation for referential delusions. No relationships were identified between childhood physical abuse and psychosis. The findings underline the role of cognitive-affective processes in the relationship between trauma and symptoms, and the importance of assessing and treating victimization and its psychological consequences in people with psychosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Schizophr Bull

Publication Date



42 Suppl 1


S34 - S43


avoidance, hyperarousal, psychosis, reexperiencing, schema, victimization, Adult, Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, Affect, Comorbidity, Delusions, Depression, Female, Hallucinations, Humans, Male, Memory, Episodic, Middle Aged, Psychological Trauma, Psychotic Disorders, Recurrence, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, United Kingdom