, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 423-428

Childhood victimisation and developmental expression of non-clinical delusional ideation and hallucinatory experiences

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Victimisation in childhood may be associated with adult psychosis. The current study examined this association in the crucial developmental period of early adolescence and investigated whether (1) unwanted sexual experiences, and (2) being bullied, were associated with non-clinical delusional ideation and hallucinatory experiences in a general population sample of 14 year olds.


Data were derived from standard health screenings of the Youth Health Care Divisions of the Municipal Health Services in Maastricht, the Netherlands. A self-report questionnaire was filled out by a total of 1290 adolescents to assess non-clinical psychotic experiences, as well as experiences of being bullied and sexual trauma.


Non-clinical psychotic experiences were strongly and independently associated with both bullying (OR=2.9, 95% CI 1.8–4.8) and sexual trauma (OR=4.8, 95% CI 2.3–10.1).


The results suggest that reported associations between childhood victimisation and adult psychosis can be understood in a developmental framework of onset of at-risk mental states in early adolescence. In addition, the data suggest that the traumatic experience of being bullied may also feed the cognitive and biological mechanisms underlying formation of psychotic ideation.