It’s a question I’ve been pursuing for several years now: What causes psychosis? I’m not a psychosis researcher. Just a concerned mental health consumer. However, I do have a BA in psychology and I did briefly work as a mental health case manager and was trained on the biopsychosocial model. Thus, I took psychosocial factors to be paramount in understanding psychosis. It turns out, there may be something to my hunch.
A new meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Thomas Bailey and team of researchers suggests that an inordinate amount of people who experience psychosis have a childhood history of trauma, abuse and/or neglect. Understanding this can help people cope with not only their symptoms but also the general effects of these abuses.
Not only do biogenetic models of schizophrenia seem to be falling by the wayside in the new research on causes of schizophrenia, the latest research suggests that psychosocial explanations of psychosis help reduce stigma. In other words, if you see schizophrenia as an “incurable brain disease,” you may have a more stigmatized view and be contributing to the stigmatization of people with this diagnosis than if you see people who experience psychosis as “people who’ve experienced bad things.”
The mainstay treatments for schizophrenia are drugs and therapy. Researchers at the Psychosis Research Unit in Manchester have been conducting far less invasive trails on therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy. In addition, the University of Manchester recently released a cell phone app that shows promise in psychosis treatment. I’ve been trying to follow the research of the Psychosis Research Unit because their work is surprising, thoughtful and promising.
Finally, I wanted to draw you attention to this short video by Elanor Longden, who not only experiences psychosis, but also works as a psychology researcher at the Psychosis Research Unit.