Childhood trauma and dissociation in female patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders: an exploratory study

Ingo Schäfer, Timo Harfst, Volkmar Aderhold, Peer Briken, Myrta Lehmann, Steffen Moritz, John Read, Dieter Naber
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 2006, 194 (2): 135-8
The few studies that have investigated the relationship between trauma and dissociative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia have not assessed the role of the severity of psychotic symptoms. The current study examined correlations among five domains of childhood trauma and dissociative symptoms in 30 female patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, using the Dissociative Experiences Scale and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Psychotic symptoms were measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Consistent with previous studies, high levels of childhood traumatic experiences were found (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire total score M = 48.5, SD = 18.3). Physical neglect and emotional abuse showed significant correlations with dissociative symptoms at admission. When patients were stabilized, about a month after admission, emotional abuse still showed a significant correlation with dissociative symptoms. However, in contrast to previous findings, Dissociative Experiences Scale findings were not stable over time. Our results confirm the relevance of childhood trauma in schizophrenic patients but also demonstrate the need to develop appropriate methodologies for measuring dissociation in this population.

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