Richard P. Bentall "Trauma and Hallucinations"
Inconsistencies in the research literature on the relationship between adverse experiences and psychosis may reflect the diversity of psychotic phenomena, and may be resolved by identifying causal pathways leading to particular types of experience (symptoms in the language of psychiatry). In this presentation, I will review evidence that childhood trauma, especially childhood sexual abuse, can play an important causal role in the experience of auditory-verbal hallucinations in adulthood. This association raises questions about the psychological mechanisms involved in hallucinations. Two possible hypotheses will be considered: (i) that the experience of trauma disrupts source monitoring and the ability to discriminate between self-generated and externally-generated events; and (ii) that souce monitoring difficulties are a vulnerability factor for hallucinations, which are only experienced when, post-trauma, spontaneous, intrusive thoughts and images are experienced. Some difficulties with each of these accounts will be identified.