Childhood interpersonal trauma and paranoia in psychosis: The role of disorganised attachment and negative schema

Charlotte Humphrey, Katherine Berry, Amy Degnan, Sandra Bucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paranoia is associated with significant distress and is associated with childhood trauma. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for this association is important for informing psychological interventions. Theoretical proposals suggest that negative schema and insecure attachment may be important mechanisms in the development of paranoia. Disorganised attachment may be particularly relevant. The current study is the first to examine whether the relationship between childhood interpersonal trauma and paranoia is mediated by disorganised attachment, and the impact of disorganised attachment on negative self and negative other schema. A large online sample of 242 people with self-reported psychosis completed measures of childhood trauma, attachment, self and other schema, paranoia and psychosis symptomatology. Path analysis indicated that childhood interpersonal trauma was associated with disorganised attachment, which in turn was associated with negative self-schema, negative other schema, and paranoia. Negative schema about others, but not self, was associated with paranoia. Disorganised attachment and negative other schema fully mediated the relationship between trauma and paranoia. Negative other schema partially mediated the association between disorganised attachment and paranoia. Results were found when controlling for depression, hallucinations and age. Results suggest that interventions that aim to modify disorganised attachment patterns and negative schema about others can potentially alleviate the impact of trauma on paranoia. Findings provide justification for longitudinal studies to confirm the direction of effects, and intervention studies that aim to manipulate disorganised attachment and negative schema about others and observe the impact of this on paranoia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-148
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research.
Early online date2 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • Attachment
  • Childhood trauma
  • Core beliefs
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • schema


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