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Trauma and Hallucinatory Experience in Psychosis

Hardy, Amy BSc*; Fowler, David MSc; Freeman, Daniel PhD*; Smith, Ben DClinPsy; Steel, Craig PhD; Evans, Jane BSc; Garety, Philippa PhD*; Kuipers, Elizabeth PhD*; Bebbington, Paul PhD; Dunn, Graham PhD§

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2005 - Volume 193 - Issue 8 - p 501-507
doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000172480.56308.21
Original Articles

Recent research indicates that there may be phenomenological, symptom, and diagnostic associations between trauma and hallucinations. However, the nature of the relationship is poorly understood from a psychological perspective. We report a theoretically informed phenomenological study. From descriptions of reported traumas and hallucinations, we assessed the rates of four types of hypothesized association between traumas and hallucinations (direct, indirect, stress, and none) in 75 participants with nonaffective psychosis. In a subgroup who had experienced trauma (N = 40), 12.5% had hallucinations with similar themes and content to their traumas, 45% had hallucinations in which the themes were the same but not the content, and 42.5% had no identifiable associations between their hallucinations and previously experienced trauma. Traumas rated as intrusive were significantly associated with hallucinations rated as intrusive, although intrusive hallucinations were not associated with traumas in general. The traumas most likely to be associated with hallucinations were sexual abuse and bullying.

*Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, London, United Kingdom; †University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom; ‡University College London, London, United Kingdom; and §University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Supported by a program grant from the Welcome Trust (no. 062452).

Sent reprint requests to Amy Hardy, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 77, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, United Kingdom.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.