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Dissociation and misdiagnosis of schizophrenia ...

Dissociation and misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in populations experiencing chronic discrimination and social defeat

Abstract: In the late 20th-century, psycho-socio-biologists determined that schizophrenia, a category of mental illness with wildly varying phenotypic symptoms, was a genetically based disorder and that environment played a limited role in the illness's etiology. However, a growing body of evidence indicates a strong correlation between environmental factors and schizophrenia in children and adults. This theoretical paper hypothesizes a relationship between highly elevated rates of schizophrenia in some low-income minority communities worldwide and trauma-related dissociative symptoms that often mimic schizophrenia. It has been well established that there are elevated rates of schizophrenia in racially and ethnically isolated, inner-city Black populations. This paper will present evidence suggesting that this amplification in the rate of schizophrenia is mediated by childhood trauma, disorganized attachment, and social defeat. Further, evidence will be shown that demonstrates how these three variables combine in early childhood to create dissociative disorders. Thus, the misdiagnosis of dissociative disorders as schizophrenia is theorized to partially mediate the increased rate of schizophrenia in communities that experience high levels of racial/ethnic discrimination. This misdiagnosis is often the result of cultural misunderstanding and/or a lack of knowledge regarding dissociative disorders.

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