Trauma and Construction of Self and Others Following Psychotic Experiences
Sporle, Timothy John
The aim of this study was to examine how trauma may affect the development of psychosis. Previous research in the field of Personal Construct Theory has found that people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia have a poorly elaborated self-concept. This study investigated whether there may be a relationship between trauma and self-elaboration in people who have experienced psychosis. It was hypothesised that more severe trauma in childhood would lead to lower self-elaboration, greater conflict in the self concept and lower elaboration of self when experiencing a traumatic life event in childhood. It was also hypothesised that people would see themselves as less like other people if they had experienced more severe trauma. A sample of 21 people who had experienced psychosis completed repertory grids. The grids included elements of self at different times in one’s life, self in different life events and other people. When childhood sexual abuse was the main grouping variable, the high trauma group had lower self-elaboration, saw themselves as more different to other people and had greater conflict in their self-concept. The findings of the study were discussed in relation to childhood abuse and its impact on self-construction. Limitations of the study were also discussed and related to future research on the relationships between self-concept, trauma and psychosis.