INTRODUCTION: Historically, psychosis, or schizophrenia, has been regarded as a
biologically explained illness of an enduring deteriorating course. The absence of
conclusive evidence regarding its biological nature, however, has led to the
proposals of psychological models of psychosis, most recently, psychosis as a
disorder of blocked adolescent development (Harrop & Trower, 2001). It was
hypothesised that the roles of adult versus adolescent onset; depressive and anxious
core beliefs; current emotional dysfunction; and traumatic symptomatology, would
be predictive of beliefs about illness and recovery style in psychosis.
METHOD: A total of 26 adolescents with psychosis and 17 individuals whose first
episode of psychosis was after the age of 25 completed the questionnaires used to
test the research hypotheses. A single case study illustrates both the theory of
psychosis as a disorder of adolescent development, and the proposed, quantitatively
tested model of the role of core beliefs in illness beliefs and recovery style.
RESULTS: Independent /-tests indicated there were no significant differences between
adult and adolescent onset psychosis regarding each of these factors. Multiple
regressions analyses indicated that current anxiety is the only significant predictor of
beliefs about illness. Excluding the contribution of current anxiety, a further model
with anxious and depressive core beliefs as predictors of illness beliefs approached
significance. None of the proposed factors were correlated with or, therefore,
predictive of recovery style.
DISCUSSION: Findings require cautious interpretation given limited sample size and
difficulties recruiting to the adult onset group. Although the quantitative findings do
not indicate differences between groups, the case study illustrates the complexity of
adolescent psychosis and demonstrates the utility of a developmental
psychopathological framework in studying these phenomena.
Conclusion: Further research of the role of core beliefs in adjustment to psychosis
is warranted. It might be appropriate to review the concepts of recovery and illness
beliefs, perhaps using qualitative research methodologies, to broaden the
understanding of individuals' experiences of psychosis and thus promote recovery