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Susser E, Widom CS. Still searching for lost truths about the bitter sorrows of childhood. Schizophr Bull. 2012 Jun ; 38(4):672-5. Pubmed Abstract

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Primary Papers: Still searching for lost truths about the bitter sorrows of childhood.

Comment by:  John McGrath, SRF Advisor
Submitted 8 August 2012
Posted 9 August 2012
  I recommend this paper

I highly recommend this commentary and the target article. The links between childhood adversity and risk of psychosis are a sensitive topic for our field. This commentary discusses important methodological issues that need to be taken into account when assessing research from the field.

The links between childhood adversity and both proximal and distal adverse health and social outcomes are not in contention (Scott et al., 2010). But, within the broad spectrum of adverse mental health outcomes associated with childhood adversity, where does psychosis figure—foreground or background? What are the causal pathways? Does childhood adversity contribute to a vulnerability to a wide range of "upstream" mental health disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.) that subsequently contributes to "downstream" risk of psychosis in a subgroup of those exposed to childhood adversity?

How can we contextualize these findings when we talk to consumers and their families? Might this topic rekindle past guilt about "blaming" the family? It is an important topic that needs more discussion.


Scott J, Varghese D, McGrath (2010). As the twig is bent, the tree inclines-Adult mental health consequences of childhood adversity. Archives of General Psychiatry 67 (2). 111-11. Abstract

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