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Intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, and the mediating role of loneliness on psychosis

David Boyda, Danielle McFeeters & Mark Shevlin
Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches; Published online: 16 May 2014.

Background: Victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and childhood sexual abuse (CSA) experience a higher propensity for psychotic symptoms. Furthermore, as a result of such experiences individuals may withdraw socially and experience feelings of loneliness; thus, loneliness may represent an intermediary link between trauma and psychosis symptomology.

Objective: To examine whether IPV and CSA are associated with feelings of loneliness and psychotic symptoms. In addition, to examine if loneliness mediates the relationships between IPV and psychotic symptoms and between CSA and psychotic symptoms.

Method: The study utilized the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (N = 7403). Psychotic symptoms were assessed using the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire along with devised measures of IPV, CSA and loneliness.

Results: Results revealed that both IPV and CSA were associated with loneliness. In addition, IPV but not CSA was found to predict psychotic symptoms. Finally, loneliness mediated the relationship between IPV and psychotic symptoms, but failed to mediate the relationship between CSA and psychosis.

Conclusions: The results are consistent with literature linking interpersonal trauma to both social marginalization and psychosis. The study extends prior knowledge by proposing a transitional link whereby social withdrawal resulting from IPV may propagate feelings of loneliness, ultimately precipitating the onset of subsequent psychosis symptoms.



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