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Traumatic experiences and life events in people with intellectual disability

Martorell, Almudenaa,b; Tsakanikos, Eliasc

doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328305e60e
Mental retardation and developmental disorders: Edited by Nick Bouras

Purpose of review The aim of this article is to present and critically evaluate recent research on life events and traumatic experiences as predictors of psychopathology in people with intellectual disability.

Recent findings The area has not developed significantly in the last years. Although life events have been associated with a range of mental health problems, only few studies have tried to clarify their role in psychopathology. It is often the case that differences between life events and traumatic experiences have been overlooked, mainly because establishing a clear cut-off point between the two types of events is not always possible. In addition, traumatic experiences per se, and as potential predictors of psychopathology, have been scarcely investigated in people with intellectual disability.

Summary The role of recent life events and traumatic experiences across the life-span of people with intellectual disability deserves more research. An outstanding question is whether these events are risk factors or triggering factors, as well as how to differentiate between traumatic and life events. Identifying possible protective factors for mental health seems to be a very promising line for future research with important clinical implications.

aFundación Carmen Pardo-Valcarce, Spain

bDepartment of Psychiatry, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

cKing's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Estia Centre, UK

Correspondence to Almudena Martorell, Fundación Carmen Pardo-Valcarce, Monasterio de las Huelgas, 15, 28049 Madrid, Spain Tel: +34 917355790; fax: +34917355799; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.