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Childhood Maltreatment’ and Psychosis’ Relationship

Child maltreatment is a crucial social problem which is related to a complex of various aspects of the functioning of society and its beneficial evolution. The growth of the level of attention devoted to the problems of upbringing resulted in the appearance of a number of important questions. The relations within a family, conditions under which a child grows and factors that influence the formation of his/her psyche are the major concerns related to the issue of the child maltreatment and its investigation. A number of scientists seek to determine the impact it might have on the further life of a child and his/her socialization. Additionally, the reconsideration of the approach towards psychosis and numerous attempts to elucidate the main concepts of the given notion resulted in the paralleling of the child maltreatment and numerous abnormal conditions. For this reason, the renewal of the interest towards the early childhood trauma and its impact on the development of psychosis in the adulthood becomes the important tendency of the modern scientific world.

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The current level of the commitment rests on the complicated background of the problem. The modern renewal of the interest is triggered by the humanistic traits of the epoch and the positive scientific environment. However, the problem of the child maltreatment is not new as this social class has always been helpless and vulnerable. The lack of physical abilities and the unformed character of the psyche promoted the creation of the special attitude towards children. Adolescents believed in their right to apply various punishments to educate a child. The last decades could be characterized by the slight shifts in the given sphere. The legal prohibition of violent actions towards children promotes the improvement of the situation. Therefore, children still belong to the risk group and suffer from the maltreatment which is now associated with an increased risk for psychotic disorders and subclinical experiences (Edalati & Krank, 2015). The significant scale of the problem triggers the investigation of the child maltreatment and the impact it has on the appearance of the subclinical psychotic syndromes.

The term child maltreatment could be defined as the action or omission which results in harm caused to a child (Child Maltreatment: Definitions, n.d.). The given definition implies several important concerns. First, the acts which result in harm could be classified into several categories which are physical, sexual or psychological abuse. All these acts of commission are taken as illegal and are prohibited because of their pernicious influence on the psychological and physiological state of a child. The actions of this character are extremely dangerous and trigger the irreversible changes of the psyche of a child. The acts of omission include such acts of maltreatment as physical, emotional, educational, medical, etc. neglects (Child Maltreatment: Definitions, n.d.). The disregard of the main needs of a child results in the significant deterioration of his/her psychical state and contributes to the acquisition of numerous psychoses. The precise definition of the given term is vital as it helps to classify various actions performed towards a child, determine their character and develop the assessment tool to obtain the complete information about a certain case.

There is the tendency to relate the issue of the child maltreatment to the acquisition of various psychoses. For this reason, the clear understanding of this notion is crucial for the further investigation. Psychosis is a state of a person characterized by radical and significant changes in the personality, impaired functioning, and the nonexistent sense of the objective reality (Choi & Sikkema, 2015). The modern psychology differentiates a number of various disorders characterized by different complications. A person might suffer from hallucinations, delusions, etc. In this regard, the quality of the life of a patient becomes deteriorated, and he/she needs professional help. There are various reasons for the acquisition of psychosis. However, the severe stress connected with the maltreatment might trigger the process of the development of the psychosis. As for children, they belong to the risk group because their psyche is especially vulnerable, and they do not have the efficient defense mechanisms.

Therefore, scientists differentiate between clinical and subclinical psychosis. According to some researches, “psychosis may exist on a continuum with normal experience” (DeRosse & Karlsgodt, 2015, p. 1). It evidences that a person might not realize the fact that he/she has some significant psychological disorders triggered by the past traumas. The psychoses of this sort are described as subclinical. The complexity of this sort of disorders is proved by their hidden character and week manifestation of the symptoms. However, this fact does not mean that the trauma and the change of the personality are less significant; there is also the necessity to control the patients with this sort of psychological disorders. As for children, the subclinical psychoses pose a great threat to their further development. Being not able to monitor their psychical state, they could consider it to be the traditional behavioral pattern and live with it, making the situation much worse. For this reason, there is a great need for the investigation of the relation between the subclinical psychosis and child maltreatment.

In scientific literature, there are several perspectives on the relations between the child maltreatment and the acquisition of various psychoses. These approaches rest on the opposite visions of the impact maltreatment might have on a child. For instance, Choi and Sikkema (2015) tend to prove the idea that the majority of anxiety disorders result from the trauma a person experienced in the childhood. They support the idea of the great pernicious impact the maltreatment might have on a common child. However, the cause-effect relationship between the maltreatment and psychosis is complicated and suggests a number of possibilities for speculations.

There is the group of scientists who have troubles with the final determination of the maltreatment as the main reason for the appearance of various psychical disorders. Shevlin, Dorhay, and Adamson (2007) conduct a survey to provide the credible information related to the issue and state that that child maltreatment just results in the increased risk of the appearance of psychotic disorder. However, it is impossible to determine the direct correlation between these two issues. Furthermore, the investigation of the suicide risk among the adolescents provides the information supporting the close relations between the child trauma caused by the maltreatment and the suicidal inclinations of the respondents (Torchalla et al., 2012). For these reasons, the are many vigorous debates around the impact of maltreatment and the way it damages the psyche of a child. The majority of scientists accept the idea of the pernicious influence of the maltreatment and contribute to the investigation of its major concerns.

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If to accept the idea that there is no relationship between a history of childhood maltreatment and subclinical psychotic symptoms, the determination of the impact of child traumas and the way they form the psyche of a child becomes challenging. Hence, Sloman and Taylor (2015) suggest the analysis of the social risks awaiting a common child and the external factors impacting his/her evolution. The data shows that the maltreatment is not the only stressor that has the pernicious impact on the formation of the behavior of a child and acquisition of numerous disorders. Additionally, cogitating about subclinical psychoses, it is vital to accept the impact of the environment and the child relations with the society on them. Edalati and Krank (2015) emphasize the role of numerous factors on the formation of the subclinical psychosis. For these reasons, the correlation between the maltreatment and disorder is not obvious.

Yet, accepting the existence of the relationship between a history of childhood maltreatment and subclinical psychotic symptoms, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms of the formation of psychoses and the way in which the pernicious influence affects a child. DeRosse and Karlsgodt (2015) touches upon the fact that “the prevalence of subclinical psychotic symptoms during late childhood and adolescence is exponentially higher than in adult populations with estimates generally between 40 and 66 %” (DeRosse and Karlsgodt, 2015, p. 2).

Continuing cogitations about the psychosis continuum, they state that such a great percentage evidences about the significant impact any stressor has on a child (DeRosse and Karlsgodt, 2015). Under these conditions, the trauma experienced in the childhood might trigger the process of the development of the complicated reaction, resulting in the acquisition of a subclinical psychosis. Furthermore, Shevlin, Dorhay, and Adamson (2007) state that the child physical abuse could obviously be taken as the significant stressor contributing to the development of subclinical psychosis. Using the epidemiologic investigation as the background for their study, Shevlin et al. (2007) come to the reconsideration of the impact of the child maltreatment, accepting it as the main predictor of psychosis. In these regards, the correlation between the child abuse and the development of disorders becomes logic and justified by the statistical data.

Comparing the variables related to the relations between the child maltreatment and psychosis, the correlation analysis of the data evidences the presence of a certain bond between the abuse or trauma experienced in the childhood, and the disorders acquired in the adulthood (Sloman and Taylor, 2015). Additionally, the undeniable pernicious influence of physical abuse is another crucial concern. Analyzing the approaches towards the impact of the child maltreatment, the idea of the direct cause-effect relationship becomes justified by a number of significant factors. For instance, the lack of the attention devoted to a child might result in the significant shifts in his/her psyche and trigger the process of the formation of psychosis. This fact leads to the reconsideration of the role of the child maltreatment.

Having accepted the correlation between the child abuse and psychosis, the determination of the aftermath of maltreatment and the mitigation of its effects become the crucial task of a researcher. Morgan and Fisher (2006) provide the credible reasoning for the acquisition of schizophrenia resulting from the trauma experienced in the childhood. The complicated character of the disease also evidences the severe character of the aftermath of the child maltreatment and their pernicious impact on the psyche of a person. Additionally, the statistics show that the adolescents failed to socialize, create a stable family or become the part of society reported on the cases of maltreatment in their childhood. It signals about the necessity of the creation of the investigation tools needed for the determination of the possible complications.

DeRosse et al. (2014) also insist on the necessity of the mitigation of the negative effects introduced by the child maltreatment. They underline the fact that stressors appearing because of various aggressive acts are supported by the stresses and conflicts a person faces in his/her life (DeRosse et al., 2014). It results in the significant deterioration of a state of a person and evolution of subclinical psychoses. It is also erroneously to suppose that the effects of maltreatment could be seen only among the adolescents. The great percentage of children suffering from maltreatment are characterized by the shifts in their behavior. Moreover, they might also suffer from the significant deterioration of the relations with their counterparts because of the failure of the process of socialization. For these reasons, it is crucial to try to mitigate the effects of child abuse and guarantee the further development of a child.

In brief, the relation between the child maltreatment and the development of psychosis has the ambivalent character. It is one of the major concerns of the modern age, and a number of scientists have opposite perspectives on the impact the issue has on a child. However, the analysis of the sources proves the idea of the pernicious influence of the maltreatment and its contribution to the formation of numerous psychoses. In this regard, it is crucial to mitigate the effects and promote the children recovery.

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Child Maltreatment: Definitions. (n.d.). Web. 

Choi, K., & Sikkema, K. (2015). Childhood Maltreatment and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.A Systematic Review. Trauma Violence Abuse, n.pag., doi:10.1177/1524838015584369.

DeRosse, P., & Karlsgodt, K. (2015). Examining the Psychosis Continuum. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 1-10. doi:10.1007/s40473-015-0040-7.

DeRosse, P., Nutzburg, G., Kompancaril, B., & Malhotra, A. (2014). The relation between childhood maltreatment and psychosis in patients with schizophrenia and non-psychiatric controls. Schizophr. Res., n.pag., Web.  

Edalati, H., & Krank, M. (2015). Childhood Maltreatment and Development of Substance Use Disorders. A Review and a Model of Cognitive Pathways. Trauma Violence Abuse, n.pag., doi:10.1177/1524838015584370.

Morgan, C., & Fisher, H. (2006). Environmental Factors in Schizophrenia: Childhood Trauma—A Critical Review. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 33(1), 3–10, doi:10.1093/schbul/sbl053.

Shevlin, M., Dorhay, M., & Adamson, G. (2007). Trauma and Psychosis: An Analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(1),166-169.

Sloman, L., & Taylor, P. (2015). Impact of Child Maltreatment on Attachment and Social Rank Systems. Introducing an Integrated Theory. Trauma Violence Abuse, 17(2), 172-185. doi:10.1177/1524838015584354.

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Torchalla, I., Strehlau, V., Li, K., Schuetz, C., & Krausz, M. (2012). The Association Between Childhood Maltreatment Subtypes and Current Suicide Risk Among Homeless Men and Women. Child Maltreatment, 17(2), 132-143. doi:10.1177/1077559512439350.

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